Assemblyman Ramos: Unemployment Highlighted as Top Issue at Veterans Roundtable

September 30, 2011

Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Central Islip) announced that a Veterans Roundtable was held on Wednesday at the Long Island Veterans Home at Stony Brook. Ramos, who serves as the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs, hosted the roundtable as an opportunity for veterans, veteran advocates and legislative leaders to discuss some of the difficulties so many veterans are facing as they come home from their tours of duty.

Much of the conversation during the Veterans Roundtable discussed concerns about veteran employment and unemployment numbers amongst veterans upon returning from duty. At the current time, a staggering 21 percent of veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed and unable to find work, Ramos said.

“These brave men and women served our nation proudly, most of whom are reservists who put their lives on hold to serve and protect us,” said Ramos. “At the very least our vets deserve the chance to be just as proud of the work they do in our country as employed members of society as they are of the work they do for our country.”

Many of the ideas that came up build off initiatives and bills sponsored by Ramos and passed by the Assembly, including:

  • directing the New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs (NYSDVA) to periodically review the programs they offer to ensure that they are appropriately responding to the needs of the population of older veterans (A7660); and
  • requiring NYSDVA to include the number of veteran-owned small businesses in New York in its annual report to the governor and members of the Legislature (A7166).

“The Veterans Roundtable allows us to get together, put our heads together and work to create solutions together that will help our vets get back to work and on their feet,” said Ramos. “As the chair of the Assembly’s Vet’s committee, I will continue my efforts to fight for the men and women who have fought for us.”

Also in attendance were: Colleen C. Gardner, New York State Commissioner of Labor; William Kraus, Acting Director of the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs; Assemblywoman Addie Russell; Assemblyman Michael Benedetto; John Gaeta, Commander of AMVETS; Francisco Muniz III and Connie Steers, Vietnam Veterans of America New York State Council; Susan Scheiren, veteran small-business owner; Jeff Klare, CEO of Hire Disability Solutions; Michael Pascal, Jr., Vice Commander Veterans of Foreign Wars; Tom Ronayne, Director of Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency; Mike Hayne and Ray Toennissen, Martin J. Whitman School of Management – Military/Veterans Programs at Syracuse University; and Plinio Ayala, President and CEO Per Scholas, a Bronx-based non-profit that gives veterans free computer-technician training and aims to help them find IT-related job.