Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Dutchess/Columbia), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and a leader on veterans’ issues in the State Legislature, has announced that her veterans’ cemetery bill was recently signed into law by the governor (Chapter 345 of 2020).
New York State is one of only a few states which has yet to establish a state-run veterans' cemetery. The New York State Department of Veterans Services has attempted to establish such a statewide cemetery in the past but was unsuccessful due to the cumbersome process. This new law reforms the process without compromising the integrity of establishing such a cemetery and allows for the use of additional funding sources.
“Having a hallowed place to honor and remember our deceased servicemen and women close to home is so important to our communities, veterans and military families,” said Barrett. “This bill creates a fiscally responsible pathway to make this federal-state partnership happen.” Additionally, Assemblymember Barrett will continue to serve as chair of the Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in the 2021-22 legislative session. As chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Barrett has helped pass a number of measures to support local veterans. This includes:
- Passing the Restoration of Honor Act, which extends eligibility for state benefits to veterans who received “bad papers” due to PTSD, Military Sexual Trauma, Traumatic Brain Injury or their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, including as a result of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (Ch. 490 of 2019);
- Introducing and passing the Outdoor Rx Act to help veterans and their families utilize the therapeutic benefits of the great outdoors by making New York’s natural resources more accessible (Ch. 282 of 2020); and
- Passing a law ensuring veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq receive the property tax relief they’re owed (Ch. 286 of 2017);
- Securing critical funding for veterans’ programs, including $4.5 million for the Joseph P. Dwyer Vet-2-Vet program in last year’s state budget.
“We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect and serve our country,” Barrett said. “I’m honored to once again serve as chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and continue building upon the important work we’ve done to ease their transition back to civilian life. I’ll continue fighting for legislation and funding that ensures our veterans and their families receive the support and services they need.”