Captiol News from The Assembly Minority Conference
The Assembly Minority Conference

We Must Take Care Of Our Veterans The Same Way They Take Care Of Us

Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

New York’s veterans are an asset and a blessing to our state and the communities they have returned to after service. The sacrifices they have made, along with those of their dedicated families, are why we can enjoy the enormous freedoms we have today. As such, the Assembly Minority Conference is looking forward to continuing to advance legislative solutions aimed at protecting our veterans during National Salute to Veteran Patients Week, which begins on Sunday, Feb. 11 and runs through Saturday, Feb. 17.

This annual recognition serves as a substantial reminder of the daily challenges faced by veterans and service members who have selflessly defended our country and fought for our democracy, freedom and equality. During this week, and every week, it is imperative we honor these true heroes by ensuring they receive the quality care they deserve.

Far too often in Albany, services and programs for veterans have been reduced to a political football game, but I firmly believe our veterans’ sacrifices and service to our country afford them much more than to be turned into bargaining chips. That’s why our Conference has always been a staunch advocate for our armed service members. We have and will continue to advance legislative measures to improve care and benefits for veterans and their families.

Already, our efforts helped enact updated reporting requirements for veterans’ suicide and the creation of a dedicated Department of Veterans’ Services. Additionally, we have also taken proactive steps to help our veterans through the “No Surrender” Veteran Initiative: Making PTSD a Priority Task Force. The initiative emphasized the importance of mental and physical health for our veterans and identified effective programs and services to support those veterans.

We will continue to build on our work during that task force initiative and advocate for even better health care options for our veterans. For this reason, Assemblyman Brian Manktelow has introduced the New York’s Own Combat Veterans Health Care Choice Program Act (A.4178). If enacted, this legislation would eliminate taxes on savings accounts to cover health care costs for certain combat veterans until federal coverage kicks in.

We are proud of the measures we have helped advance in support of our veteran community, but there is still much work to be done. Our veterans’ unmatched efforts deserve an equal commitment from us, and their well-being remains at the top of our agenda this week, next week and for as long as our armed services need.