Veterans’ Cemetery Bill Passes NYS Senate
Albany, N.Y. – (06/21/11) – New York State is one step closer to creating a deserving tribute for the men and women who risked life and limb for this country. Senator Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson), Chairman of the Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, sponsored and passed a piece of legislation (S5381A) in the New York State Senate that essentially kick-starts the creation of a State Veteran’s Cemetery.
“New York is one of the only states in the country that has not taken advantage of a federal grant program created to honor our troops,” said Chairman Ball. “It’s about time we did the right thing and invested the time and energy into this deserving project,” added Ball.
In order for New York to participate in the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Cemetery Construction Grant Program, the Commissioner of the New York State of Veteran’s Affairs Department must have the legislative authority to complete and submit an application for a cemetery grant.
To date, the VA program has helped establish, expand and improve 79 veterans cemeteries in 38 states and territories, provided nearly 28,000 burials in 2010 alone! The VA has awarded grants totaling more than $438 million. New York has never participated in this federally-sponsored program, leaving thousands of New York State veterans without access to this earned benefit.
“The need for veteran’s cemeteries is growing at a rapid rate,” said Senator Bill Larkin (R-C, Cornwall-on-Hudson). “This legislation will allow New York to meet those needs in the future and ensure our veterans are properly recognized for their service to our country,” added Larkin.
“Our brave men and women who protect us should have a final resting place in New York State. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this legislation and commend Senator Ball for his leadership on this issue,” said Senator Lee Zeldin (R, C, I- Shirley).
“Many states have established veterans cemeteries to honor those who answered the call to defend our freedoms and liberties. The creation of a New York State Veterans Cemetery will demonstrate our respect for our veterans who have served to protect our nation,” said Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange).
The legislation provides the authority to the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Veterans Affairs to submit an application for a Cemetery Grant to the United Stated Department of Veterans Affairs, to finance and establish a State Cemetery in the State of New York.
Furthermore, this bill allows any Senator or Assembly member the opportunity to submit an application for a federally-sponsored cemetery grant, thereby supporting the VA’s national goal of providing a burial option within 75 miles of 90 percent of all veterans in New York.
“New York Veterans have sacrificed so much to ensure our freedom, and it is only right that we offer them a final resting place that acknowledges their work and dedication to our country. I am honored to be carrying this bill in the Assembly, as a veteran and as a New Yorker,” said Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz.
“There could not be a more honorable project than to give a resting place to our underserved veterans in New York State. I am very pleased that my former colleagues are supporting our veterans. Senator Ball has done a profound job in seeking support for this endeavor,” said Senator Ball’s Director of Government and Veterans Affairs, MaryEllen Odell.
The legislation is awaiting a vote in the New York State Assembly.