Summary of Town Hall at Manhattan VA

20180130_100710.jpgOn Tuesday, January 30, 2018, Martina Parauda, Director of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, held a town hall for veterans and the Manhattan VA. Here is a brief summary of the information she provided for our community:

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NYC Veterans Advisory Board Must Meet Its Obligations

The meeting of the NYC Veterans Advisory Board (VAB) scheduled for today in Brooklyn--which would have fulfilled the VAB's chartered mandate to hold at least one meeting open to the public in each borough on an annual basis--has been cancelled. The meeting has been rescheduled for January 23, 2018, for a Brooklyn location that is not yet identified.

This cancellation is unfortunately consistent with the VAB’s pattern of lagging behind in its ability to fulfill its chartered mandate:

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Vouchers for Homeless Veterans Must Be Protected

homelessvet.jpgYesterday the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs announced a plan to immediately slash the HUD-VASH program, a $265 million supportive housing voucher program intended to end veteran homelessness--until outcry from advocates and veterans organizations caused them to reverse that decision late last night. Although this shocking cut is off the table for right now, it will be back on the table for 2019. This is unacceptable and could potentially worsen the national scourge of veteran homelessness.

The NYC Veterans Alliance urges our community to call upon the VA and our Congressional delegation to protect the HUD-VASH voucher program in order to keep recently homeless veterans stable in permanent housing and to sustain a program that has effectively reduced veteran homelessness in NYC and nationwide. 

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Testimony on Intro. 6880: Extension of Eligible Funds Tax Exemption

On November 15, 2017, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony in support of Intro. 6880, a bill proposing to extend the current Eligible Funds Tax Exemption for veteran property owners to include school tax, which would bring this older program into alignment with the Alternative Tax Exemption expansion passed earlier in the year. 

Below is our testimony before the NYC Council:

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Anti-Discrimination Law Takes Effect on November 18, 2017

Starting on November 18, 2017, the NYC Human Rights law went into effect to provide new protections for veterans and servicemembers from discrimination in housing, employment, and places of public accommodation. Take a look at our Lunch & Learn conversation with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, NYC Department of Veterans' Services, and the NYC Veterans Alliance about this important new legislation, and see important details below:

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NYC Veterans Alliance Announces 50 Bricks Challenge, a Matching Capital Campaign

Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund Jumpstarts Challenge with a $50,000 Gift

NEW YORK - Oct. 18, 2017 - PRLog -- NYC Veterans Alliance (www.nycveteransalliance.org), a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that empowers military veterans and their families to become civic leaders, today launched its 50 Bricks Challenge, a $100,000 matching capital campaign. The Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund kicked it off with the lead donation of $50,000.

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A Win in Brooklyn! No Closure of Brooklyn VAMC Services

In August, our members sounded the alarm on a proposal by the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System to close inpatient surgeries at the Brooklyn VAMC, which rallied local politicians to take action. We are proud to announce today that we've heard from Congressman Dan Donovan's office that this plan has officially been abandoned! 

“We applaud the leadership of Congressman Donovan and the bipartisan advocacy of the many Brooklyn elected leaders who stood against closure and contraction of services at the Brooklyn VAMC," said Kristen Rouse, U.S. Army Veteran, Founding Director of the NYC Veterans Alliance, and Brooklyn resident. "As our leaders and our community are well aware, we must focus on improving VA care for our city's veterans, not reducing available options. We are pleased to see that the veterans who rely on the Brooklyn VA can rest assured that all existing services will remain open and available for them.”

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Advocating for VA Home Loans with NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

Yesterday we joined NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer for his announcement of a new partnership with RBC GAM Access Capital to create a first-of-its-kind program to support affordable housing for veterans in New York City. Each year at least $5 million will finance mortgages guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans and their families living in New York City. This is an encouraging move by NYC government, and one that we hope will increase the ability of veterans to access and use the VA Home Loan they've earned here in the city they call home. 

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Holding the NYC Department of Veterans' Services Accountable

city_hall.jpgOn Monday, October 2, the NYC Council held an oversight hearing on the NYC Department of Veterans' Services (DVS). We offered testimony assessing the progress and budget of DVS for FY 2017 and the current FY 2018 budget year. Despite much needed and encouraging growth, our overall assessment is that this richly funded agency has demonstrated disappointing lapses in its basic responsibilities and is as yet failing to fully deliver on programs that highly paid staff have been working to deliver for many months.

For specifics, please see the testimony below of our Founding Director. 

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COALITION TO PROTECT AMERICAN SERVICEMEMBERS CALLS ON PRESIDENT TRUMP TO RESCIND RESTRICTIONS ON TRANSGENDER TROOPS

NEW YORK, NY -- August 26, 2017 -- The Coalition to Protect American Servicemembers (CPAS), a group of organizations joining together in a nonpartisan effort, dedicated to honoring and protecting all those who have served and are currently serving in the military, today released the following statement in response to the announcement that President Donald Trump signed a policy memo restricting transgender individuals from serving in the military:

“We stand with SPARTA, a leading organization of LGBT servicemembers and veterans, and their statement: ‘As transgender service members, we are and have always been soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen first. We serve our country honorably, in good faith. Transgender service members are currently deployed to various locations around the world in defense of our Nation. The average transgender service member has eight years of service and served two or more deployments. Deployments are a staple of military life. Transgender service members have shown they are fully capable of doing the job they are called upon to do, and so we will continue until directed otherwise.’

In addition, we, the Coalition to Protect American Servicemembers, call on President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense to rescind this discriminatory policy and let our troops get back to focusing on their jobs.

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