The act has been just short of ten years in the making, and following a February endorsement by Governor Andrew Cuomo—the only person standing in the way of approval—the Jobs for Heroes Act is all but law.
Service-connected disabilities are defined as those caused by injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated by military service, according to the Veterans Administration.
State Senator Joseph Addabbo, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, was a strong proponent of the Jobs for Heroes Act throughout the process of legislative approval.
“While the battlegrounds have been different over the last 95 years, the overriding needs of our veterans have remained very much the same,” he said. “Our veterans need jobs, education and health care. They need help transitioning back to their homes when they return from combat and, above all, our veterans need and deserve our respect and gratitude.”
As part of the transitional services package detailed by the new bill, a Division of Service-Disabled Veterans Business Development would be established within the State Office of General Services.
“This should help veterans and potential employers better communicate about job skills and help more veterans get on more payrolls,” said Addabbo, noting that a 2007 study found that 61 percent of employers felt they did not have a complete understanding of the qualifications offered by former servicemen and servicewomen.
He added that joblessness is particularly high among post-9/11 veterans, standing at 10 percent, or about 246,000 servicemen and servicewomen.
Approval comes on the heels of the annual American Legion legislative meeting in Albany. Addabbo lauded the Legion for highlighting the issues of joblessness, suicide and homelessness, which are prevalent among New York’s veteran population.
“New York State is third in the nation in terms of its homeless veteran population, with an estimated 4,660 homeless servicemen and servicewomen in shelters, transitional housing, or on the streets on any given night,” Addabbo said. “We need to address this, as well as the shockingly high suicide rate among our nation’s veterans, which is estimated at 22 suicide deaths every single day.”