New York State Vows to Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

New York State Vows to Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

For thousands of military members, each deployment starts with a countdown until the day they get to return back to their families. And as heartening as it may be to come back after completing a tour of duty, returning is not without difficulty. Leaving a highly-structured environment and returning to civilian life can be a struggle for many veterans.

The State of New York recently took a major step to ensure veterans transition to civilian life with their best foot forward. Around Memorial Weekend 2023, the New York Senate passed five key bills that will help them access the healthcare, employment, and housing opportunities they’ve earned.

What’s Being Approved in New York State?

All in all, the lawmakers at Albany’s capitol approved five different bills around late May and early June 2023. Each one addresses a different aspect of the post-military transition. Altogether, they will make it easier for veterans to settle into their new life, protect their rights, and strengthen the existing social services designed for New York’s veterans.

These are the bills:

S5416 – Helping Veterans Find Their Way Amidst Bureaucracy

Sponsored by Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton (D-Staten Island), Bill S5416 addresses the delicate few months immediately following an honorable discharge.

The official name of this bill is “Timely Issuance of Certificates of Honorable Separation”. It will improve communication between local Veterans Affairs offices and returning service personnel. In this way, local veteran organizations will be immediately informed whenever a soldier returns home to New York State. Then, the agency will be able to approach the veteran or their family directly, and connect them to the different resources and grants – such as education, housing, or mental health support – that they would be eligible for.

S3586 – The Alex R. Jimenez Program for Foreign Soldiers and their Families

New York State Vows to Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

In 2007, Staff Sergeant Alex R. Jimenez was killed in action in Iraq. While his body was still being recovered, his wife – who was an undocumented migrant at the time – faced active deportation proceedings.

Now, Sergeant Jimenez’s daughter worked with Sen. Nathalia Fernandez (D-Bronx/Westchester) to ensure no other family would have to face that ordeal again. The bill will help ensure noncitizen veterans and their families can access a clear path toward naturalization and citizenship.

S5241 – Improving Student Veteran Services

Meanwhile, Senator James Sanders (D-Queens) has pushed a bill to ensure the available educational resources for veterans truly match what they need. The S5241 Bill commands the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) to conduct a study on all the educational offerings, services, and programs currently offered for veterans.

The data gathered from this study will be the first step towards a revamped, comprehensive educational system for veterans.

S5530 – Ensuring Veterans’ Wishes are Respected

For Senator Samra Brouk (D-Rochester), the State’s commitment towards veteran welfare should go beyond life. Under this bill, veterans will be able to designate a family member or a close friend to help make arrangements for their funeral. This person will have the right to request a burian at one of the State’s veterans’ cemeteries and ensure the deceased will be awarded all the honors and courtesies they are due.

S5967 – Expanding Tax Exemptions for Veterans

Senator Pete Harckman (D-Westchester) was the brain behind the last bill in this package. This bill clarifies who counts as a “veteran” for tax purposes. In this way, career members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, even if they are still serving, will be eligible for the veterans’ alternative tax exemption.

Under the “Veterans’ Property Tax Exemptions,” war veterans can receive up to $7,000 in tax exemptions. With this law, even those who have not received an unconditional discharge yet will benefit from this tax break.

What’s Next for New York Veterans?

Over 1 million veterans call New York State home, making the state the fifth-largest contributor to the nation’s defense. Politicians and citizens from all political persuasions recognize this as something to be proud of – and stand ready to defend each veteran’s right to enjoy a comfortable, safe retirement. Currently, two more bills will help veterans transition to civilian life. First, Senator Nathalia Fernandez is currently working on a new bill that will ban housing discrimination against vets. Finally, a bipartisan group led by Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon recently proposed a new bill, which will reserve 10% of all paid internship positions at the State’s Assembly for qualified veterans.

Veterans Running for Office - American Veterans Honor Fund

Share this post