In response to my own call encouraging residents to give back through civic participation, I have decided to join the Central New York Civil Air Patrol (CNYCAP) in addition to my existing membership on the New Hartford American Legion Auxiliary, Post 1376. The civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol is an all-volunteer force that provides emergency and disaster relief assistance, Search and Rescue, educational programs on aerospace and aviation, and mentoring opportunities.
Because I feel so strongly about protecting our communities and supporting our military, joining the Civil Air Patrol was a perfect match for me in my own goal of doing more for the benefit of our community. I am very proud to be joining the 235 members, 76 adults and 159 cadets at CNYCAP and joining CNYCAP’s 70-year tradition of serving the eight counties of Central New York, including Oswego and Oneida counties.
While I look forward to getting to know the hardworking, dedicated men and women at CNYCAP, back in Albany I will be fighting for greater protections for our military. With so many young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the alarming increased incidences of post traumatic stress disorder must be addressed and I pledge to work together with our local American Legions, VFWs and the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs to help more veterans get the assistance and mental health coverage they need when they come home.
When troops return home, they also deserve our help finding a job and, often, finishing their education. I encourage every veteran to take advantage of the state’s Tuition Remission Program for veterans wherein veterans are eligible for free tuition at any of the State University of New York campuses or the equivalent cost toward tuition at a private institution. The state Division of Veterans’ Affairs has a plethora of programs available to returning troops to help them gain job-specific training, help with interviewing and resume building, and finding a job.
But there is more that we can do. Although this year’s budget will be very tight indeed, I will be working for creation of an assistance program to help the families of overseas troops afford daycare and other vital child care services. As we know, raising a child is a huge responsibility and we owe it to our troops to make sure their kids are being well cared for while they are overseas fighting for us.
I encourage all veterans to contact their local American Legion, VFW, the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs, or my office for any help, ideas or suggestions you may have. Call my office at 315-762-4383, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you to all who have served and it is my hope that in one way or another each and every resident of Oneida and Oswego counties will join me in finding a way to give something back.