NYC Veterans Need Financial Relief - Including Student Loan Relief

via Getty ImagesFar too many veterans and families were already on the brink of financial crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic. As we've worked to aid our community over the last year through our Veterans Mutual Aid program, we've heard from so many who were pushed into total catastrophe. The least our federal government can offer is immediate, significant debt relief. Student loans have placed a tremendous burden on our community, and we join with a number of veterans organizations in urging President Biden to  to cancel up to $50,000 in debt to keep veteran families stable in their homes and their lives.

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A Major Win on Veterans Treatment Courts

Last week, universal access to Veterans Treatment Courts across New York State was signed into law. We're proud to have been part of this tremendous push by the New York State Health Foundation, and we thank NYS Senator Brad Hoylman for championing this legislation. 

First implemented in Buffalo, NY, in 2008, by Judge Robert Russell, Veterans Treatment Courts seek to connect veterans in the criminal justice system as a result of untreated mental health conditions with treatment, benefits, and support to get them back on the right track. Under this new law, qualifying veterans in every county in the state will be able to have their cases diverted from traditional criminal prosecution into the more specialized treatment path of a Veterans Treatment Court. 

Since 2016, Veterans Treatment Courts have been fully operational in all five boroughs of New York City, with Manhattan and Staten Island being the final additions. Veterans Treatment Courts are effective diversionary programs that have been shown to decrease recidivism, improve outcomes, save costs, and give a second chance to those who have served our nation. The NYC Veterans Alliance has strongly advocated for expansion of Veterans Treatment Courts in all five boroughs and across New York State.

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Standing Against Anti-Asian Hate

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NYC Veterans Alliance Signature Effort to Name Manhattan VA for First Woman Veteran Becomes Law

corbinmonument.jpgJanuary 14, 2021 - Yesterday, as the nation watched as he was impeached for the second time, President Donald J. Trump signed into law H.R. 1925 / S. 898 (now known as Public Law No: 116-331), which is the culmination of more than two years of steadfast advocacy by NYC veterans and allies. This new law designates the Manhattan Campus of the New York Harbor Health Care System of the Department of Veterans Affairs as the Margaret Cochran Corbin Campus of the New York Harbor Health Care System, the first VA Medical Center to be named in honor of a woman who served as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

 

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End Harm & Harassment at VA Now

The U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs is charged with care and services for ALL who have "borne the battle" in service to our nation. Back in 2018, we raised concerns about Robert Wilkie's background of discriminatory conduct and policies at the time of his confirmation. This week, the VA's own Inspector General released a report showing that he and VA senior staff deliberately targeted a Navy veteran (who hails from New York, no less!) who reported that she was sexually assaulted on her visit to the VA Medical Center in Washington, DC. Wilkie, Acting Deputy Secretary Pam Powers, senior public affairs staff, and even Congressman Dan Crenshaw were named in the report as focused on smearing the reputation of this Navy veteran rather than actually addressing the environment of harassment at that facility that many other women veterans had already made known to VA leadership.

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Testimony: Impacts of COVID-19 on New York’s Veterans

On August 14, 2020, Deputy Director James Fitzgerald testified before a joint hearing by the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs, Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Assembly Subcommittee on Women Veterans on the impacts of COVID-19 on New York's veterans. His full testimony:

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How Veterans Fared in NYC 2021 Budget

NOTE: Since we made this posting in July, NYC budget numbers have changed--again. We continue to find the city's budget reporting processes frustrating and unclear to taxpayers, who deserve to know how their money is being spent. We will provide updates as we can. Thank you. 

 

Last week the NYC Council voted to adopt a budget for Fiscal Year 2021 that made deep cuts in NYC government. The NYC Department of Veterans' Services was cut, as was the amount of discretionary funding for veteran-serving nonprofits provided by NYC Council members. Here is what happened:

Last year's adopted budget for NYC DVS was $5.36 million. The adopted 2021 budget for DVS is $4.2 million, a reduction of approximately 22% from last year's adopted budget of $5.36 million. The agency's personnel headcount has been reduced by 5 positions. 

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Juneteenth: Honoring Black New Yorkers in the Civil War

Juneteenth commemorates the anniversary of Union troops arriving in Galveston, Texas, and reading the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been originally issued in 1863, to enslaved Americans who were not yet free. Celebrated annually by many Black communities since 1865, Juneteenth is a day of reflection and celebration of Black American history, culture, and unique food traditions. This year, Juneteenth has been declared an official holiday in New York in recognition of our collective need to recognize Black freedom and to stand in solidarity against racism and racist violence. As veterans, we take this holiday to reflect on the profound history of Black New York veterans of the Civil War who served and sacrificed to make freedom and democracy possible for all of us. 

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1943: When Police Shot a Harlem Soldier

Private Robert BandyThis week in NYC we are under the first curfew imposed on the city since the rioting in Harlem in August 1943 following the shooting of a Black soldier. As veterans, we believe the story of 1943 should be told. 

In November 1942, Private David Wood, assigned to the 9th Engineer Regiment at Fort Dix, New Jersey, was shot in his stomach by a police officer while he waited for tickets at a movie theater. Violence and discrimination against Black troops serving during World War II was pervasive not only in the South, but nationwide. Black veterans of World War I, especially those who served grueling months fighting on the front lines in Europe as Harlem Hellfighters, remembered clearly the discrimination and hatred they faced both during their service and upon their return home. The murder of Private Wood by a white policeman marked the tenth murder of a Black soldier since Pearl Harbor

America had seen decades of racial violence and rioting, and 1943 was especially violent. On June 15, 1943, thousands of white residents of Beaumont, Texas, destroyed and looted black businesses and homes over two days when a white woman stated that a black man had raped her, although no assailant was never identified. On June 20, 1943, Detroit erupted in racial violence as white aggression over racially integrated factory labor fomented a night of violence and retaliation, in which 17 Black residents were killed by police. The summer of 1943 was one in which Black communities across the country were tense and on edge as their young men were recruited to fight overseas and whole communities served in the broader war effort at home, despite the discrimination and violence they were forced to suffer. 

 

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Our Commitment to Justice for All

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