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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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A Great Week for NYC Veterans and the NYC Veterans Alliance!

Veterans Week was a banner week for the NYC Veterans Alliance!

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Testimony on Ending Veteran Homelessness

On Thursday, November 12, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony before the City Council's Committee on General Welfare and Committee on Veterans related to the oversight of the city's efforts to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Founding Director Kristen Rouse presented the organization's testimony, and member LaTasha Peeler provided her own vital testimony about her experience as a formerly homeless veteran. 

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VETO of 2015 Veterans Equality Act

In an overnight veto on October 26, Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again squashed a bill that was passed unanimously in the NY State Senate and had only one dissenting vote in the Assembly. As a result:

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Asking Questions at the VFW Queens County Council Legislative Breakfast

Yesterday was the 51st Annual Queens County Council Legislative Breakfast hosted by the Queens County Council of the VFW. Ryan Graham, Commander of the Queens County Council, coordinated the event and made sure veterans citywide were invited to attend. Special thanks to Ryan for inviting NYC Veterans Alliance leaders and members.

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