City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach, Woodhaven) yesterday saw the City Council unanimously pass his package of “Veterans Day” bills that will give veterans better access to City resources.
Ulrich’s three bills – Intro 391-A, Intro 394-A and Intro 396-A – will address unique issues facing New York City veterans and create resource centers that provide counseling.
“I am proud to sponsor these bills, which will make it easier for veterans to gain access to crucial resources. While New York City has made great strides in ending veteran homelessness, many veterans are still finding it difficult to make ends meet,” said Ulrich. “Although it would be impossible to full repay the debt we owe our brave men and women in uniform, I am thrilled to have the support of the City Council.”
Introduction 391-A will require the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) to provide benefits counseling services to veterans seeking assistance with federal, state, and city benefits that they may be entitled to based on their military service. The counseling services would dispense information, evaluation, and advice, but would not replace claims services provided by veterans’ service providers. DVS will be required to provide such counseling services through trained staff and in at least one location per borough, including at each veterans resource center.
Introduction 394-A will require DVS to create official veterans resource centers in each borough, no later than June 1, 2019. The resource centers would be responsible for providing veterans with free information about, at a minimum, housing, social services, financial assistance, discharge upgrade resources, and veterans benefits. The centers would also provide benefits, counseling services, and veterans resource guides. Additionally, DVS will be required to provide a minimum of 20 hours of in-field and office service to veterans in each borough per week. This bill would require the commissioner of DVS to establish outreach and educational efforts so that veterans are made aware of these centers.
Introduction 396-A will require DVS to create a veterans resource guide, to be updated regularly, that will be available on its website and in physical form. The guide will include information such as benefits to veterans and their family members, laws affording special rights and privileges to veterans, protections and remedies given to veterans under the New York City Human Rights Law, available physical and mental health programs and resources, educational and training opportunities, and available sources of low or no-cost legal assistance.
“As we take a moment to reflect on their sacrifices, it is my hope that these bills serve as a small token of appreciation for the brave men and women who call New York City home,” Ulrich said. “I’d like to thank all of my colleagues in government for joining me in my fight for our nation’s heroes.”