Today, 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.
In a May 21st, 2019, hearing held by the Council’s Committee on Veterans, Founding Director Kristen Rouse stated, “New York City’s budget must not be balanced on the backs of veterans and their families—a population that has been under-served for decades by our city’s government, and that the city’s Department of Veterans’ Services has only begun to reach out to over these last few years.”
In the fall of 2015, as pressure was mounting on Mayor de Blasio to approve legislation to create an independent city agency providing veterans’ services, the NYC Veterans Alliance and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America invited the Mayor to a town hall to take place in Manhattan with veterans representing numerous veteran service organizations and community organizations active in the city. He was unwilling to participate in person at the town hall. A later town hall was arranged with then-Public Advocate Letitia James. Mayor de Blasio has also never attended any meeting of the city’s formal Veterans Advisory Board, which has held five public meetings each year during his administration.
Kristen Rouse, an Army veteran and Brooklyn resident, stated, “It is good to see Mayor de Blasio’s new interest in meeting with veterans. We invite him to sit down with veterans here in NYC to hear their concerns—and to learn firsthand why we’re opposed to cutting back on services for veterans and families, just a few short years after our community’s massive effort to create a new agency to serve them. Even as we have New Yorkers deploying, fighting, and losing their lives in wars abroad—we must do more, not less, for those who serve our nation, and the families they depend on.”