Magnarelli: Honoring Our Veterans, Supporting Active Duty Military Personnel

May 26, 2006

Memorial Day is a day of reflection when we take time to pay homage to our veterans and thank our active duty military personnel. It is important that we join together in recognizing the dedication, loyalty and ultimately the sacrifices that so many men and women have made for our country. They give so much of themselves to ensure that our freedom and safety are not compromised – so, on Memorial Day we give our thanks.

While it is important that we remember how profound Memorial Day is, it is equally important that we honor the legacy of our veterans every day. That’s why I helped secure $50,000 for repairs and restoration for the Veterans Memorial in Solvay. The Veterans Memorial is a place to honor and remember those who have fought for our freedom. I believe that the memorial should reflect our respect for those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. It is fitting that the restorations were able to be completed for our Memorial Day remembrance.

In the Assembly, my colleagues and I understand the significance of the sacrifices that the members of our armed forces make. I’ve sponsored legislation exempting veterans and active military personnel from paying sales tax on the purchase of military decorations. Many veterans and active members of the military misplace the ribbons or medals they have earned in the military or some would simply like an extra set possibly to give to their children. This bill is a small but well-deserved acknowledgement for the service provided by veterans and active members of the military as they so bravely serve our country.

In another effort to honor our veterans, I sponsored legislation that the governor later signed into law allowing veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War, or “Desert Storm,” to receive specialized license plates in recognition of their service to our country (Ch. 493 of 2005). Before this legislation became law, only WWII, Korea and Vietnam veterans could obtain a special license plate indicating their service to our country – but Persian Gulf veterans could not. This law provides the respect we owe to those veterans who served in that conflict.

In this year’s budget, I helped create a tax deduction for New York State National Guard members called to service in New York by the federal government – saving them a total of $1 million. I also sponsored other legislation providing tax relief, education credits and recognition for our heroes, including:

  • Expanding education benefits and tuition awards for Vietnam and Persian Gulf veterans (Ch. 250 of 2004);
  • Increasing the maximum exemption allowed under the alternative veterans’ exemption, helping wartime veterans keep up with rising property taxes (Ch. 256 of 2005); and
  • Creating alternative veterans’ tax exemption for recipients of the Global War on Terrorism expeditionary medal (Ch. 473 of 2004).

I know that I am not alone in sharing my appreciation for the sacrifices our soldiers have made. We must continue supporting our veterans, active duty military personnel and their families – if only to offer them a small token of our community’s gratitude for all they have given to New York and our country.