New York Veterans Urge Assembly to Also Pass Major Legislation that Guarantees Right to Vote for Active Duty Service members, Health Care for National Guard, State Contract Preference for Service-Disabled Veterans, and a New York State Veterans Cemetery
ALBANY, NY (1/25/2011) – Veterans groups throughout New York State have applauded Senator Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson) for passing four major veterans bills during his first meeting as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security, and Military Affairs, and they are calling on the State Assembly to do the same. Each bill was reported without objection, including major legislation to guarantee active duty service members that there vote will be counted if they are killed in the line of duty after submitting an absentee ballot, to establish a New York State Veterans cemetery, to grant health care to the New York National Guard and Air National Guard, and to grant state contract preference to small businesses operated by service-disabled veterans.
During the meeting, Senator Ball said he hoped the Committee would cooperate in a united effort on the issues that come before it, which includes a united effort to also pass each bill through the Assembly.
“There may be a division in this table,” Ball said, indicating a division in the table between Senator Joseph P. Addabo, the Ranking Minority Member on the committee and himself, “but there is not a division on these issues. My goal and my honor is to raise the bar in delivering for those who represent the best of New York and America. The work starts immediately to do everything we can for our veterans, including passing these bills not just through the Senate, but also through the Assembly and placing them on the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.”
In addition to receiving unanimous support in Committee, the four bills have received statewide support from veterans groups.
“The AmVets, Department of New York, endorses these bills and urges them to be passed into law,” said Mark Phillips, Commander of AmVets Department of New York.
“The American Legion, Department of New York, supports and urges passage of recent legislation enacted by the New York Senate Veterans Committee. It calls for the eliminating of the inequity inherent in the disqualification of votes cast by service members killed in the line of duty after submitting an absentee ballot. It supports the establishment of New York State Veterans Cemeteries. It strongly supports granting of health care to New York National Guard and the Air National Guard in the same manner as now being given to equivalent Navel Units; and it also strongly supports New York State contract preference to small businesses operated by service disabled veterans,” said Joseph Barry, Legislative Committee Director of the American Legion, Department of New York.
James McNally, Legislative Director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of New York, said, “The Veterans of Foreign Wars is in favor of revisiting these bills, and we hope this time we have a Governor who signs them into law.”
“Service members who are fighting to protect their country deserve the guarantee that one of their basic entitlements, the right to vote, will be carried out even though they perish in battle after submitting an absentee ballot, said Norman Bussel, Veterans Service Officer at the Montrose V.A. Hospital and a member of American Ex-Prisoners of War. “Additionally, The New York National Guard and the Air National Guard have taken on responsibilities much larger than their former obligations to New York State alone. Now the New York National Guard, along with all other state National Guard units, may be called on for combat duty abroad. This additional responsibility to the national defense requires that we maintain an acceptable number of personnel. I recommend that New York State offer health care to our National Guard units as a well-deserved incentive to attract additional capable recruits.”
Putnam County Legislator Richard Othmer, a Veteran of the United States Marine Corp and the Navy, as well as a small business owner, says that legislation granting preference to service-disabled veterans on state contracts is long overdue.
“I give Senator Ball an A+ for looking out for our Veterans so early in his term, and keeping their well-being at the forefront of his agenda,” Othmer said. “Right now selected minorities are given preference for public awards based solely on race and sex, not merit. Disabled Veterans come in all colors and religions, male and female. These people have earned the right to be put to the front of the line.”
On March 14, Senator Greg Ball has invited these statewide veterans organizations, as well as the thousands of veterans living in the Hudson Valley, to march on Albany to advocate for these bills and other much needed veteran services.
Additionally, S878, sponsored by Senator Martin Golden, creating an optional school tax exemption for certain disabled veterans passed through the committee.