Building on the progress we made last year to enshrine protections for veterans and military members in NYC law with passage of Local Law 119-2017, NYC Veterans Alliance today stood in support of a new bill being introduced by Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14) to protect student veterans using GI Bill benefits from housing discrimination nationwide.
We gathered for a press conference at the stunning Bronx Victory Memorial in Pelham Bay Park, which commemorates the troops from the Bronx who lost their lives in World War I. Joining Rep. Crowley was NY State Assembly Member Mike Benedetto, Assembly Member Nathalia Fernandez, Council Member Mark Gjonaj, and members of the NYC Veterans Alliance.
Dubbed the "Students LIVE (Live Irrespective of Veterans Educational Assistance) Act," Rep. Crowley's bill proposes to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to prohibit discrimination against veterans on the basis of their VA educational benefits as their source of income. We fully support this legislation as a national extension of protections we worked to emplace here in NYC, and it advances the policy priorities set forth by our members for this year.
WE DID IT! Intro. 1259 is our FIRST BILL to originate with our membership--and it was passed today by NYC Council! 1259 was developed by our team, brought to introduction, pushed by our membership, opened to hearing, and finally voted to passage today thanks to the hard work of our members and team. We give our hearty thanks and congratulations to all of our members who gave input, took action, and supported our efforts with your dues and donations. This would not have been possible without you!Read more
by William Michael Day
In March 2017, William Michael Day was denied life insurance because of his PTSD diagnosis. He began asking his friends if they've had similar experiences, and he took it upon himself to research the situation to examine the legality and consequences of when veterans like himself are denied life insurance because of PTSD or other diagnoses. The result is a thoughtful exploration of how mental health and insurance intersect, and the real-life consequences of those intersections for veterans and their families.
by Alexander McCoy
Yesterday in New York City, Timothy Caughman, a black man who also was known by the nickname “Hard Rock,” was ruthlessly murdered by an Army veteran. The killer told NYPD investigators that he traveled from Baltimore explicitly to kill black men, and that he had harbored intense, racist hatred for a decade, which means his hateful aggression overlapped and accelerated during his service in the Army as a military intelligence specialist.
As we remember the life of Timothy Caughman, and other black lives lost to racist violence, members of the veteran community need to grapple with what it means that his killer was a veteran.
The first temptation is to dismiss it, or blame the media for highlighting the killer’s service. To be sure, the Army did not give him this murderous mission, or glorify his racist ideology. But what bothers me is that our community does so little to actively speak out against the kind of hate that this crime represents.
Since the kickoff of our Spring 2017 Policy Agenda with our Lobby Week and “Love Our Veterans” Rally in February, we’ve been pushing NYC Council Members to support our priorities by email, direct mail, and in-person meetings with Council Members and staff. Here’s a preliminary update on how we’re doing on each of our agenda items and how you can help:
1. Protect the Budget for NYC Department of Veterans’ Services:
Update: In FY 2017, $2.9 million was allocated for 35 staff members to launch NYC’s newest agency. The Mayor’s initial budget proposal for FY 2018 reduced that amount by one staff member and $318k. Following our community’s outrage, his office announced that the position and funding will be restored in his Executive Budget that will be released in May 2017. We have been urging NYC Council members—in our public testimonies and private meetings—to likewise protect this funding level in further budget negotiations to ensure that the budget passed this June will reflect $2.9 million for DVS. We are continuing to monitor this.Read more
We have work to do for veterans this month!
NYC government has entered the budget-making process for the 2018 fiscal year, which starts on July 1st. There is legislation on the table that needs to get passed. And more than anything, our City government needs to hear from veterans that we need them to not just tell us our service & sacrifice matter to them—they need to show us.
What can you do?Read more
Today we were proud to stand with Public Advocate Tish James, Council Member Jumaane Williams, Commissioner Loree Sutton, and Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis to mark the introduction of the bill we drafted and proposed last spring to amend NYC's human rights laws to include protections for veterans and military members. The bill's language has been updated to summarize this as "uniformed service," and express the most inclusive definition possible. We approved this change within the last few weeks, and we are proud to be part of moving this legislation forward. Below is the statement of Founding Director Kristen Rouse at today's press conference at City Hall:Read more
From our first policy agenda meeting last September to our Policy Design Workshop in December, follow-on group "Draft" workshops in January, and community responses to our 2016 surveys--it has been clear that veterans, military members, and their families are facing a wide range of challenges that can and must be addressed at the local level. But foundational to all of these issues is one key absence: veterans and military members are not included as protected categories of persons in NYC's human rights law.Read more
On Saturday, January 30, we invited veterans and civilians to join us at Civic Hall for a "Draft Day" to get into the details of the policy solutions we want to see addressing Affordable Housing & Homelessness Prevention (in the morning) and Mental Health & Suicide Prevention (in the afternoon).Read more
On Monday, members of the NYC Veterans Alliance convened at Civic Hall to workshop and discuss policy issues and solutions. We were joined by Commissioner Loree Sutton of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs and members of the Civic Hall community.
Below is a letter from Samuel Innocent, Director of Policy, to the members of the NYC veteran alliance breaking down the magic that occurred Monday night and to share the results:Read more