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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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Join Us: First Annual Battle of Brooklyn March!

washington_brooklyn.jpgOn Saturday, August 19th, we're convening a group of NYC Veterans Alliance members and supporters to commemorate the 241st anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn, the largest battle of the American Revolution, with a 17.76-mile march (walk) through neighborhoods, parks, and historic sites in Brooklyn. We'll also be celebrating the 2nd birthday of the NYC Veterans Alliance, and we're asking for your support to help us continue growing into our third year!

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Reduction of Critical Services at Brooklyn VA Medical Center?

brooklyn-va-medical-center.jpgAn alarming business plan to reduce critical services for veterans at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center (VAMC) is being circulated amongst the NYC veterans community this week, and we urge our community and elected officials to take note and voice concern. 

In the business plan, the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System proposes to change its Brooklyn campus surgery office from “Complex” to “Ambulatory Advanced,” stating that the current Brooklyn inpatient surgical cases can be accommodated at the Manhattan VAMC without affecting access to care or wait times. This effectively ends surgical services at the Brooklyn VAMC. The business plan is signed by NYHHS Director Martina Parauda, with an implementation date of July 1, 2017. It is unclear how much of the plan has been implemented to date. 

Recent contraction of VA services in Brooklyn has already been very concerning. In 2015, the Brooklyn VAMC closed a 25-bed inpatient wing because it was too expensive to staff and keep open, despite outcry from Staten Island and Brooklyn veterans who rely on the Brooklyn VAMC. Last year, the Harbor Healthcare System closed an outpatient facility on Chapel Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which many underserved veterans relied on for a sense of community as well as meals and ongoing healthcare. Patients were assured that there would be regular shuttle bus service to bring them to Manhattan, but we’ve heard anecdotally that those shuttle buses were not adequate to provide Brooklyn patients with access to the Manhattan VAMC. 

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Supporting Tax Relief for Disabled and Senior Citizen Homeowners

On August 8, 2017, the NYC Council Committee on Finance held a hearing on raising of the eligible income threshold for disabled and senior citizen homeowners qualifying for property tax exemption under the city's Disabled Homeowners Exemption and Senior Citizen Homeowners Exemption programs, of which many veterans take part. 

Below is the testimony offered by our Director of Operations:

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Supporting Transgender Veterans & Troops

When we founded the NYC Veterans Alliance just two years ago, we committed to the inclusion of ALL veterans--we leave no veterans behind. We've stood in defense of veterans with bad paper. We've stood up for lesbian, gay, and bisexual veterans who were unjustly discharged. And last week we stood up for the transgender troops who are serving honorably across the world, as well as the countless numbers of transgender veterans who deserve recognition and respect for their service to our nation.

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Celebrating Passage of Anti-Discrimination Bill

On June 26, 2017, we held a press conference with Public Advocate Tish James and officials from the NYC Commission on Civil Rights and NYC Department of Veterans' Services celebrating the unanimous passage of Intro. 1259, which will protect veterans and servicemembers from discrimination in housing, employment, and other facets of life in NYC. Our members took the stage to talk about their personal experiences with pervasive discrimination, and why this law will make a tremendous difference in their lives:

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