Council Passes Veterans Advisory Board Legislation

Council Passes Veterans Advisory Board Legislation

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) chairs the council's Veterans Affairs Committee. Photo Courtesy of City Council/William Alatriste.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) chairs the council’s Veterans Affairs Committee. Photo Courtesy of City Council/William Alatriste.

The City Council Committee on Veterans Affairs last week trumpeted the passage of three pieces of legislation that will reform the Veterans Advisory Board and gather data on services available to vets.

Established in 1987, the VAB and advises the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs on issues and acts as a liaison between the city and the local veterans’ community. The board is comprised of nine members—five appointed by the mayor and four by the Council speaker.

A bill introduced by City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), chairman of the committee, would require the board to meet a minimum of five times annually, including one meeting in each borough per year, to bring greater focus to the needs of outer-borough veterans. Int. 619A would open all VAB meetings to the public, and require MOVA to notice each meeting in advance on its website and with veteran service organizations located within the five boroughs. The bill would also ensure that meetings are broadcasted live and recorded for New Yorkers to view from their own homes.

Int. 611A would increase VAB membership from nine to 11 members to ensure that veterans of different conflicts and demographics are fully represented on the board. The bill would also provide each member their own city email address to enhance communication between the VAB and the veteran community.

Int. 600A would require several city agencies to report on the services they provide veterans. This legislation, according to the committee, will collect much-needed data on local vets and ultimately assist the VAB and Council with policy creation.

“The Veterans Advisory Board does great work and strengthens the lines of communication between city government and local vets,” Ulrich said. “This legislation will allow for greater public input that will only enhance the ability of the board to meet the challenges facing veterans and their families in our city.”

News of the bills’ passage came on the same day that state Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) announced that legislation he sponsors to provide beverage sales tax exemptions to veterans’ service organizations has been approved by the Standing Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.

By Michael Cusenza


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