Half-Price Metrocards for Student Veterans

At last! The Fair Fares program will soon be extended to include qualifying student veterans, to finally fulfill a promise included in the NYC budget announced in June 2018. The measure was originally mandated to go into effect on January 1, 2019, to provide half-price MetroCards for more than 12,000 veterans enrolled in NYC colleges. Following months of delay, we have learned from the city that this will at last be implemented as follows: 

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Wins for Veterans & Families in FY 2020 City Budget

nocuts2.jpgNYC's Fiscal Year 2020 budget has #NoCutsforVets! Thanks to the sustained advocacy of our members and community partners, the newly released budget for NYC's Department of Veterans' Services (DVS) is increased by $77,500 rather than cut, as had been proposed by Mayor de Blasio in January and again in April of this year. This will fund our city's newest independent agency with a budget of $5.3 million in FY 2020 and keep it on track for continued growth, outreach, and impacts on the lives of veterans and their families. Please contact DVS at 212-416-5250 with your questions or to get help for yourself or a veteran you know. Veterans and family members can also request help through the city's online service network, VetConnectNYC.

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Defending Student Veterans in NYC

presser_300.jpgUPDATE: This legislation has been passed (Intro 1047-2018 Version A) as of May 29, 2019. It is awaiting signature by the Mayor. Thanks to all who stood with us on this important local measure!

Last July, we stood with Public Advocate Tish James as she introduced a bill to the NYC Council to ensure city government provides support to student veterans and holds exploitive for-profit colleges accountable if they fail to deliver quality education to veterans using their GI Bill educational benefits. Video of that press conference is HERE and our statement of support for the bill's introduction is HERE.

On December 13, 2018, that bill at last was brought to a joint hearing of the Council's Committees on Veterans and Higher Education. Director of Policy & Legislative Advocacy Sam Molik delivered testimony on behalf of the Alliance. His testimony is below:

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Mayor de Blasio Meets with Veterans - in Las Vegas

deblasio_lasvegas.jpgToday, the NYC Veterans Alliance responded to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s presidential campaign meeting with veterans in Nevada, asserting that he has never held a similar meeting with NYC veterans during his administration, and further noting that his current Executive Budget proposes to cut $118,000 from services for veterans and families.  

In March, NYC Veterans Alliance members and community partners, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Veterans Advocacy Project, rallied with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Council Members Kallos and Gjonaj expressing outrage against proposed cuts to veterans’ services in both city and state budgets. The NYC Veterans Alliance has pressed numerous Council Members to ensure NYC prioritizes funding for the services it provides to veterans and families across the five boroughs.

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VA Healthcare Town Hall with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez

On April 17, 2019, NYC Veterans Alliance co-sponsored a Town Hall with National Nurses United, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Vietnam Veterans of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Help Is On the Way, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 23, and Veterans for Peace Chapter 34. The discussion was centered on the quality of care received by veterans in the Bronx, and ways the VA should responsibly implement the MISSION Act, scheduled to go into effect on June 6, 2019.

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Fighting the Ban on Transgender Military Service

UPDATE: On April 12, 2019, the ban on transgender members of the military has been reinstated, reversing the 2016 policy permitting servicemembers to serve openly, regardless of their gender identity. Openly transgender servicemembers face bars to reenlistment, promotions, job assignments, and potentially discharge. New recruits who are openly transgender are barred from enlistment or commissioning in the military. This impacts an estimated 13,000-15,000 currently serving troops, and the families who rely on them. It further sends the message to veterans and their families that the service and sacrifices of transgender veterans and their families is unrecognized and unappreciated. NYC Veterans Alliance renews its commitment to ALL those who have served our nation in uniform in opposing this ban and advocating to ensure all who serve receive the honor, recognition, services, and benefits they have rightfully earned. 

 

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We Did It! Preserving Lifesaving PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Program for Veterans in New York State!

 

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3/31/19 UPDATE: Thanks to you taking action these last few days, today the New York State legislature put forward an appropriations bill that FULLY FUNDS the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Services Peer-to-Peer program, avoiding deep cuts that seemed imminent only hours ago. This means veterans at risk for suicide in counties across New York State will continue to benefit from the support of peer mentors and their community. We further urge state legislators to continue investing in and expanding this young, successful program in the months and years to come.

Special thanks to each and every one of our community members who reached out to Governor Cuomo and NYS legislators--and thanks also to backup from our community partners at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America who had our backs on this! We are also grateful for the legislators and advocates across the state who spoke up to protect this vital program, including NYC-based Assembly Members Felix Ortiz and Nicole Malliotakis. 

 

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Opposing Budget Cuts for NYC Veterans' Services

190314.jpgOn Thursday, March 14, 2019, we presented testimony before the NYC Council's Committee on Veterans regarding oversight of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget for the NYC Department of Veterans' Services. Our testimony featured opposition to Mayor de Blasio's proposal to cut $63k from the budget, as well as concerns about staffing, accountability, and support from the Council. 

Below is the testimony presented:

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Improving ThriveNYC for Veterans & Families

190227_MolikThriveNYC_400.jpgOn February 27, 2019, Director of Policy and Legislative Advocacy Sam Molik testified before the NYC Council's Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities & Addiction in an oversight hearing on the first three years of the ThriveNYC program addressing mental health for New Yorkers:

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Addressing Veteran Suicide in NYC

190226_molikhearing_400.jpgOn February 26th, 2019, Samuel Molik, Director of Policy and Legislative Advocacy, testified before the NYC Council's Joint Committees on Veterans and Mental Health, Disabilities & Addiction in an oversight hearing on veteran suicide and mental health:

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