By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Each of the city’s agencies would have to have a point person to assist military veterans under a bill approved by the City Council. The bill, introduced by Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), would require each agency to appoint a liaison responsible for connecting veterans to the benefits and services the agency offers.
The idea is to make sure veterans are aware of the services the city has to offer them, according to Gentile, who said he was pleased his proposed legislation passed. The council apprived the bill on May 22.
“This is an innovative way to expand the reach of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs at no cost to taxpayers,” said Gentile, a member of the council’s Committee on Veterans. Gentile said the bill would ensure that information “on benefits and programs they might otherwise miss” would get into the hands of veterans.
New York City is to more than 210,000 veterans, including thousands who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans are eligible for a wide array of services and benefits provided by city agencies.
Under current city law, the Mayor’s Office of Veteran’s Affairs is required to provide information on the veterans’ services that are available at each city agency. But navigating the bureaucracy to get information on these benefits and services can prove challenging, according to Gentile, who said the program had become largely ineffective.
This bill approved by the council would officially formalize the city’s veteran coordinator program.
“Creating a veteran liaison program involving every agency within the city would be an important step forward in improving services to veterans who need direct assistance,” said Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D-Kensington), chairman of the Committee on Veterans.
“Our veterans have made unimaginable sacrifices on behalf of our great nation and it is our responsibility to do what we can to ensure that they are receiving the best services our city can provide,” Eugene said.
“We owe so much to our veterans, and it is a debt we can never truly repay. We also owe our veterans the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned,” Gentile said.