Victories for Veterans in 2022 State of the State
By Jason Skinner
President, NY County Service Officer Association.
Chairman, Finger Lakes Veterans Advocacy Council.
Vice Chairman, National Association of Counties Veterans Standing Committee
At the request of NYSAC, NYSCEA, and the County Veteran Services' Officers Association, Governor Hochul has made a pledge to make new investments in our county veteran service operations.
The Governor's 2022 State of the State book, released yesterday shows a promising start to bolster the continued advocacy with multiple partnerships established last year.
The Governor's State of the State address included the following actions for counties and the veterans we serve:
- County/City Veterans Service Agencies will have their annual funding increased from a minimum of $10,000 apiece to a minimum of $25,000. This represents a 150% in the annual allocation from New York State to these agencies that provide vital services in their areas of operation.
- Fresh Connect Checks for Veterans program will receive an additional $225,000 in funding. In addition, Fresh Connect Checks will be distributed from County Veterans Service agencies, in addition to state DVS.
- The Joseph P. Dwyer Program will be funded to expand statewide, providing any interested county with the ability to establish a chapter of this successful program focusing on the reintegration of Veterans to their new communities in their post-military lives.
- Eligibility will be expanded for the Hire-A-Vet Tax Credit, making it available for Veterans of any era of service rather than just post-9/11 service, allowing the credit for part-time work, and removing the current distinction between disabled and non-disabled veterans.
- Digital Veterans Welcome Centers — the first of which was established at the Capital Region Welcome Center on Veterans Day 2021 — will be implemented throughout New York State at New York State Thruway Welcome Centers, airports, train stations, and other locations where they can provide easily accessible information and key points of contact for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families.
- New York State will commit resources and partnerships to provide mentors in every county for the Expiration of Term of Service (ETS) sponsorship program which helps transitioning Service Members in their return home. This still-new federal program offers a game-changing solution to ensure that Service Members are linked with a trained mentor in the community, to which they are going to be returning six-to-ten months prior to their discharge date, setting up a smoother glide path in the ever-challenging transition of military service to civilian life.
The New York State County Service Officer Association is thankful for the support of the New York State Association of Counties and The New York State County Executives Association. Having asked for an increase in all of these areas for years previously; with their combined advocacy we accomplished goals that were unattainable acting independently.