Albany, N.Y. – 6/10/2013 – Senator Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) Chairman of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs Committee is urging the New York State Senate and Assembly to pass S2803A, legislation that would give service disabled veterans a preference for state contracts.
Information released by the New York State Department of Labor and the U.S. Census stated that nearly 20 percent of recent veterans under the age of 30 are unemployed. It was also reported that a staggering 28 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans reported having a service-connected disability. Senator Ball has been leading the effort on the state level to create quality jobs for returning veterans, especially those returning with a service related disability.
“Here in New York state, it’s time to recognize that there is a serious problem, our veterans are being left in the dark,” said Senator Ball. “The extraordinary service and sacrifice rendered to our nation by these men and women returning home with injuries incurred in the line of duty is worthy of providing a contract preference to all service-disabled veteran businesses. With the number of returning veterans suffering with ailments like traumatic brain injury, this bill would provide a small measure of recognition and support that these heroes so fully deserve.”
This legislation will put New York state on the same level as the Federal Government, which through an Executive Order, issued in 2004 by President George W. Bush, established a 3 percent set-aside of all Federal contracts for service disabled veterans. In 2009, similar legislation, S3285A/A8555A passed both the New York State Senate and Assembly, but was vetoed by Governor Patterson who believed that the 6% preference was too high. Senator Ball has since amended the bill to a 3 percent set-aside, that does not compete with the current set-aside for minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
The bill has received bipartisan support, lead by Co-Majority Leader and Independent Conference Leader Senator Jeffrey Klein (D- Bronx/Westchester) and Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange).
“The servicemen and women that have been injured while protecting our country deserve our full support,” said Senator Klein. “I am happy to stand with Senator Greg Ball to support an important bill that will give disabled veterans the opportunities they deserve when building a small business.”
“The last thing we should ever do is send our brave men and women returning home from battle to the back of an unemployment line,” said Senator Carlucci. “We must find ways to think outside the box so that we can create jobs for all New Yorkers, especially those that have served our country with honor and dignity.”
Senator Ball has hosted two hearings on the need for state preference in contracting for service disabled veterans, the first in Albany, NY on March 6, 2012 and the second in Mt. Kisco, NY on April 27, 2012. Service-disabled veterans from Summit Security, John Fernandez Associates Inc., and Drexel Hamilton, the sponsor of the Wall Street Warfighters Training Program addressed the Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee to express the need for more quality employment opportunities that match the skills and experience service- disabled veterans have.
“Disabled Veterans do not want to be anyone’s charity. That is something that is engrained in them by their service. After they have served their county and when they hit the civilian market, that doesn’t change,” said Cauldon Quinn, a retired Lieutenant from the US Navy and Service Disabled Veteran. “This bill is so important because it provides opportunity for Veterans to demonstrate that they are capable of not just competence but excellence”
Jerald Majetich, a Retired Staff Sergeant from the US Army gave testimony on his horrific experience overseas in October of 2005. An explosive device struck Majetich’s vehicle, he managed to escape the vehicle but was then shot three times in a firefight. He spent the next twenty-two months in the hospital and has undergone 62 surgeries.
“Veterans as a whole do not want to sit at home. I am 42 years old, I am entirely too young to retire and sit on the couch for the rest of my life and receive a paycheck from the government,” said Majetich. “I wanted to prove to my children that it doesn’t matter what happens in your life, you can get back up and make a meaningful difference to not only your family but to your community”
“Currently there’s a plethora of good will out there when it comes to Veterans. However, there is not a plethora of even opportunities to perform”, said Staff Sergeant Ben Downing. Downing is currently a member of the Drexel Hamilton Wall Street Warfighters, a program sponsored by the finance firm that teaches service-disabled veterans the ropes of the finance industry.
Senator Ball’s legislation is being carried by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and is currently in the Assembly Governmental Operations Committee.
For more information please contact Joe Bachmeier at (845) 200 9716.