Affordable Housing & Mental Health Committees: "Draft Day"

On Saturday, January 30, we invited veterans and civilians to join us at Civic Hall for a "Draft Day" to get into the details of the policy solutions we want to see addressing Affordable Housing & Homelessness Prevention (in the morning) and Mental Health & Suicide Prevention (in the afternoon).

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Standing Up for Veterans: Our Community Reintegration Initiative

In early 2015, Mayor de Blasio touted his commitment to ending veteran homelessness as part of the Obama administration’s initiative (and large-scale funding) to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. NYC government lagged in its efforts to find appropriate affordable housing to allow a sufficiently large number of homeless veterans to move from the crowded, inadequate conditions of NYC’s homeless shelters. In late 2015, HRA made last-minute deals for veteran housing that have drawn anger and frustration from local communities and jeopardized the success of veteran reintegration into these communities.

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Testimony on Oversight of the Veterans Advisory Board: Impacts of Last Year's Reforms

On Wednesday, January 13, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony before the NYC Council Veterans Committee on the performance of the Veterans Advisory Board since reform legislation was passed in February 2015:

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Policy Design Workshop

On Monday, members of the NYC Veterans Alliance convened at Civic Hall to workshop and discuss policy issues and solutions. We were joined by Commissioner Loree Sutton of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs and members of the Civic Hall community.

Below is a letter from Samuel Innocent, Director of Policy, to the members of the NYC veteran alliance breaking down the magic that occurred Monday night and to share the results:

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2016 Policy Agenda Survey

In December 2015, we asked the NYC veterans community to take our 2016 Policy Agenda Survey to help us assess the priorities we should focus on as we develop our 2016 Policy Agenda. The topics listed were based on the issues raised during our First Policy Agenda Meeting in September. The survey had 82 respondents, and they identified as follows:

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NYC Department of Veterans Services (DVS) Becomes Law!

On Thursday, December 10, veteran leaders and advocates from across NYC were invited to attend a ceremony aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, where Mayor Bill de Blasio at last signed into law the bill creating a NYC Department of Veterans Services (DVS).

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Testimony on Discharge Upgrades for Gay and Lesbian Veterans

On December 14, 2015, the NYC Veterans Alliance testified in favor of the NYC Council Committee on Veterans resolutions in support of the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, which is federal legislation proposing to automatically upgrade adverse discharges for veterans for no other reason than homosexual conduct, and New York Restoration of Honor Act, which would automatically extend NY State benefits for honorably discharged veterans to those adversely discharged for homosexuality.

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Veterans Included in Mental Health "Roadmap"

Today First Lady Chirlane McCray is announcing the details of her Thrive NYC Roadmap for NYC mental health services. This was anticipated earlier this year, but at last comes with a number of initiatives—and among them, veteran-specific initiatives that are promising steps forward for NYC veterans, service members, and their families. We are pleased that the NYC Veterans Alliance had input in this important set of initiatives, and that some of our recommendations from earlier this year will at last be implemented.

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Veteran Street Vendor Committee Meeting with Council Member Ulrich

On Wednesday, November 18, the NYC Veterans Alliance Street Vendor Committee, in partnership with Veterans 4 Veterans NYC, Inc., met with Council Member Eric Ulrich, Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Veterans, to discuss needed reforms for NYC’s veteran street vendors. CM Ulrich was receptive and empathetic to the concerns and recommendations of the group, which included five seasoned veteran street vendors who represented a range of experience with vending food and merchandise using the city’s variety of permits available to veteran vendors. The meeting explored several potential legislative remedies to the current problems encountered by veteran vendors.

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Concerns About the Post-Reform Veterans Advisory Board

Earlier this year, we were part of the push to reform the NYC Veterans Advisory Board in order to make it more truly representative of NYC veterans and also transparent, with published meeting announcements and minutes of meetings so that the NYC veterans community can understand what the VAB is doing on their behalf.

The nomination and appointment process remains opaque, but we have been encouraged that the VAB has been making progress in becoming the representative advisory board intended by the City Charter--until yesterday. Mid-afternoon on Monday, November 16, the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs announced that the next VAB meeting would be held in Queens--just a few hours following the announcement. This was absurdly short notice for anyone from our community to be able to attend.

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