By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Military veterans have served their country and now their country should be serving them, according to state Sen. Marty Golden, who is among a group of elected officials pushing for legislation to give veteran business owners a helping hand.
Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) is a co-sponsor of a bill that would establish the New York Jobs for Heroes Program. Under the program, New York State would give preference to veterans who own small businesses when it comes to awarding state contracts.
The legislation calls for the state to set aside five percent of its contracts to award to military veterans.
Golden, a member of the State Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Military and Veteran Affairs, said he wants to see the bill become law this year.
“This must be the year that the NY Jobs for Heroes Program becomes law, for as more and more veterans are returning from war each and every day, this program must be up and running as soon as possible,” Golden said.
“We must make sure that the men and women who defend us, can provide for their families,” he added.
The bill’s main sponsor is state Sen. Greg Ball (R-C-Patterson), a graduate of the US Air Force Academy.
Ball led a rally at the State Capitol on Monday to urge support for the legislation. Ball later met with Governor Andrew Cuomo to discuss the bill.
Ball issued a statement in which he noted that Cuomo expressed support for the concept in his recent State of the State Address.
“Providing this earned opportunity to our heroes is commonsense. The governor’s public and recent support is exactly the kick in the pants this bill needed to make it a reality. I am very happy to welcome Governor Cuomo aboard our statewide mission to create a ‘NY Jobs for Heroes Program’ in New York State,” Ball stated.
“One in seven veterans are self-employed or small business owners. The same attributes that make these people so vital to defending our freedom are the same hard earned intangibles that make them exceptional at running their businesses and creating jobs,” Ball stated.
The Albany Times Union reported last month that if the bill is approved, New York would become the 45th state to have a contract-preference program for military veterans.
The Times Union also reported that similar legislation has been kicking around Albany for years and that David Patterson vetoed it when he was governor.
Golden’s senate district includes the US Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton, located in the southwest corner of Bay Ridge. Thousands of veterans visit the fort each year to shop at the Post Exchange or to take part in various activities on the base.
Golden also hosts a Veterans Day breakfast event for veterans at the Bay Ridge Manor catering hall every November.