November 11, 2016
By Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte
New York, NY – The sight of a soldier embracing family after returning home is a beautiful and unforgettable scene. For many, though, the reunion signals the beginning of a new set of challenges.
Veterans face many obstacles as they strive to re-enter civilian life and the workforce, often while coping with the physical and psychological repercussions of defending our freedoms. Veterans Day, November 11, is a time to recognize these heroes for their service to our country and renew our commitment to getting them the support they deserve.
Home to nearly 900,000 veterans, New York State has a moral responsibility to care for service members who have returned home. Unfortunately, statistics show that about half of all post-9/11 service members will face some period of unemployment upon their return. In addition, veterans make up 12 percent of the adult homeless population in our country, including a growing number of women with children.
In addition, we passed a new law creating the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund, to which New Yorkers can easily contribute by simply checking a box on their income tax forms (Ch. 428 of 2014). 
In the fight against veteran homelessness, effective job placement is a powerful resource. That’s why the Assembly Majority has continually passed laws to help our veterans find meaningful and well-paid work, including tax credits for small businesses that hire veterans (Ch. 59 of 2013) and the Veterans Employment Act to help give veterans temporary staffing jobs in state agencies (Ch. 557 of 2013).
Meanwhile, the federal GI bill continues to help veterans earn a college degree. Home loan programs and property tax exemptions for veterans also help our heroes fulfill the American dream of homeownership. Once veterans have transitioned back into civilian life, we must continue to say thank you. That’s why more than 12,000 businesses statewide offer discounts for active military personnel and veterans.
Though we should always remember to thank our veterans, November 11 serves as a yearly reminder to reflect on their sacrifices. There are many memorials and parades taking place both nationally and locally to honor our heroes. From the solemn wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery to state and local gatherings that honor our own friends and neighbors, there are plenty of ways to show gratitude to our veterans on this important day. I encourage you to contact your local AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion or Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) chapters for more information about what you can do to honor our local veterans and where to find other Veterans Day celebrations. To learn more about veterans’ benefits contact the state’s Division of Veterans Affairs at 888-838-7697 or visit www.veterans.ny.gov.
This Veterans Day, make sure to take time out to reflect on all that our brave heroes sacrificed for our freedom – and thank them. As always, if I can be of any assistance on this or any other issue, please feel free to contact my office at 718-940-0428 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*** Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte represents the 42nd Assembly District in the New York State Assembly representing Brooklyn communities of Ditmas Park, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Midwood.