Celebrated on November 11 every year, Veterans Day is ultimately a day of reflection, gratitude and celebration of the individuals, past and present, who have dedicated their lives to bravely serving and protecting our country. On this day, we honor the selfless men and women of our nations military and the sacrifices they make to ensure our way of life. America owes a debt to its veterans that can never be repaid.
As the son, father, brother and uncle of veterans, I have a profound respect for the armed forces and their families. Currently, there are 18.8 million veterans living in the U.S. and each and every one of them deserves our respect on this day, and every day.
SUPPORTING VETERANS IN OUR COMMUNITIES
I am tremendously proud to represent communities that appreciate and honor the service of our veterans. On Friday morning, I had the great privilege to participate in an assembly at Bloomfield Central School that honored local men and women who served in the U.S. military.
The gathering was truly patriotic and inspiring. The event featured a profound acknowledgement of the veterans in attendance, great student participation and deep gratitude for everything our brave soldiers have given us. These types of moments are too rare. Id like to see every school find a similar way to express the appreciation Americas veterans richly deserve.
This year in the Finger Lakes Region, there are several events planned to celebrate Veterans Day. Among them, the Canandaigua VA Medical Center is hosting a ceremony which will include a musical salute to our armed forces. All veterans who attend will be gifted a pin and cards of gratitude created by local school children. The event is free and open to the public.
Additionally, Finger Lakes Community College is hosting a very special Veterans Day ceremony featuring a number of local veterans who recently escorted Midlakes High School students to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans in cooperation with the Soaring Valor program.
Numerous local businesses are offering special discounts, sales and recognition of veterans. A comprehensive list of participating businesses can be found here.
ADVOCATING THROUGH ACTION
The Assembly Minority Conference continues to advocate for our veterans year after year. For more than a decade, my colleagues and I called for the expansion of the MERIT scholarship program, which provides college scholarships to the families of military personnel killed in the line of duty. Last April, despite resistance from the Assembly Majority, the state finally expanded the program after we sounded the alarm and the public demanded action.
Taking care of those who serve our country is a moral obligation. I am proud to sponsor the following bills aimed at assisting veterans and their families:
- A.4490 creates the Veteran Owned Business Enterprise Act, extending state benefits offered to minority and women-owned businesses to all honorably discharged veterans;
- A.4100 provides an exemption of honorably discharged veterans from payment of New York Thruway tolls;
- A.880A eliminates sporting license fees for honorably discharged and disabled veterans; and
- A.858 grants recognized veterans organizations free use of pavilions at state parks, state recreational facilities and historic sites.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York state. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.