Stand with us! At 2:00 PM SHARP on the steps of City Hall, we are rallying to let our city's elected officials know that NYC VETERANS & FAMILIES MATTER. We're inviting veterans, family members, and civilian allies to join us and make our voices heard.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and members of the NYC Council will attend and speak in support.
Co-sponsors of this event include: NYC Veterans Alliance, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 72 and National President John Rowan, and New York State Veterans Chamber of Commerce.
Veterans and our families in NYC are once again facing budget cuts and dire situations:
Unacceptable NYC Budget Cuts of Veterans' Services. This year, Mayor de Blasio has proposed cutting the NYC Dept. of Veterans' Services budget by $63k, only three years into growth of this new agency. Although DVS must be accountable for its expenditures, its overall budget of $5.2 million is merely a drop in the bucket of NYC's broader $92 billion budget. For a community that has been underserved by NYC government going back decades, the budget--and outcomes--must increase, not decrease.
Unacceptable NY State Budget Cuts of Critical Veterans' Programs. Also this year, Governor Cuomo proposes slashing more than $2 million in funding for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Services Peer-to-Peer Program that has been highly successful across the state in working with veterans with PTSD and TBI, reducing critical risk factors for veteran suicide. Governor Cuomo is also cutting $1.6 million from the state budget to assist veterans and family members with accessing the services and benefits they've earned. With New Yorkers still coming home from wars and conflicts across the globe, any cut to veterans' services and support is simply unconscionable.
Veteran Homelessness in NYC Went Up, Not Down Last Year. Last year the number of homeless veterans in NYC increased instead of decreased. The city has done tremendous work to reduce the homelessness crisis, but more work must be done to bring this number down. "Functional zero" is still a long way from actual zero, and one homeless veteran is still one too many.
Veteran Suicide Remains a Crisis. Our City Council's hearing on veteran suicide a few weeks ago only touched the surface of the true crisis we are facing as a nation--at least 20 veterans each day in our country are dying by suicide, twice the rate of our civilian counterparts. This is a national crisis, and a state and local one as well. While President Trump has just signed into law a Veteran Suicide Task Force, it has no funding allocated, and its organization remains unclear. We must have real solutions, funding, and attention at all levels of government.
LGBTQ Veterans & Servicemembers and Families Need Our Support. Now more than ever, LGBTQ veterans and their families need to have the full support of elected officials and the whole of our veterans' community. Nationally, transgender veterans are in the process of being barred from service in the U.S. Armed Forces, overturning previous policies allowing them to serve openly. The ban on transgender service is expected to go into effect on April 12. This hateful, discriminatory policy reversal not only jeopardizes the service of currently serving military members in NYC, it also has a detrimental effect on the mental health and well-being of transgender veterans and their families.
Gaps in VA Care in NYC Must Be Addressed. Our recent survey of NYC veterans on their VA experiences revealed that women veterans are twice as likely as men to express dissatisfaction with the care they receive; staffing shortages are causing confusion and potential disruption of services; and implementation of the VA MISSION Act continues to cause confusion and anxiety among veterans who rely on the VA for care.
Veterans' Concerns & Priorities Must Be Addressed. On Monday, we're rolling out our membership's 2019 Policy Priorities, seeking tangible action on the affordability of housing and home ownership for veterans and families in NYC, support and opportunities for veteran-owned businesses, preventing discrimination in employment and housing, protections for student veterans, and many more important issues requiring the attention and action of our elected officials.