Veterans First!

I am committed to being a strong advocate for our City’s Veterans & Military families! Having grown up in a Military family, I understand the needs and struggles Veterans face when returning home from war. My Grandfather, George Goldberg, served in the United States Navy during World War II. My Great Grandmother, Ida Gerstein, would cook Shabbat dinner every Friday night for the Veterans staying at the VA Hospital in the Bronx. My Great Uncle, Leonard Gerstein, was awarded the Purple Heart for his service in World War II. My Brother In-law, Dan Bernstein, recently returned home from a tour in Afghanistan. I work with disabled Veterans on a daily basis here at my position at America Works Of New York, Inc. I run America Works’ Ticket-To-Work employment program. Ticket-To-Work is an employment program funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration. I help disabled Veterans receiving SSI/SSDI and whom are under 65 years of age find employment. I work with these Veterans by developing a career plan, writing them a resume, helping them with mock interviewing and helping them set up job interviews. The goal of our program is to help put these Veterans on a path to self-sufficiency. I have a unique perspective of the difficulties and struggles these Veterans face when searching for a job This economy has been tough on all of us but even more so on Veterans and military families. Unemployment was 7.9 percent nationally for the month of October & unemployment among our nation’s veterans is at 6.3%. Unemployment among our nation’s younger Veterans (18-24) is at nearly 25 percent. Unemployment among Post 9/11 Veterans is at 10%. Having bravely served our nation, Veterans and military families deserve more from us. The least we can do is ensure every Veteran and every member of a military family help in securing a job. Our city's Veterans deserve the best services when they return home. Now is the time for a comprehensive citywide plan for our Veterans.

1. Establish Vet Centers In Each Borough The City of New York needs to create at least one center in each Borough for Veterans. Similar to senior centers, these centers would serve as a place where they can go for social services, employment assistance, medical care, etc. 2. Build “Veterans Village” This is the time to build “Veterans Village”. Veterans Village would be a public – private partnership. This village
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would be a new place where Veterans & military families could have affordable housing. There are over 10,000 homeless Veterans living in the NY Metropolitan area and New York needs to address this very crucial issue. This village would also include on-site medical facilities, education, employment& training centers as well as places where Veterans can go for city social services. 3. Allocate funds for Veteran Employment Programs The City of New York has money set aside for Employment Services for various demographics. A new category to be allocated exclusively for Veterans Employment. 4. Establish Veteran Court’s in all 5 Boroughs to deal with Veteran specific civil and criminal cases. In 2009 Veteran Specific courts were established in Brooklyn & Queens. These Courts are designed to help Veterans facing a unique set of circumstances. These Courts are a way to help divert Veterans from incarceration. These courts are very successful and should be expanded to all five boroughs. 5. Advocate for the Establishment of a NYC Veterans Chamber of Commerce With nearly 300,000 Veterans returning home from war each year, now is the time for the establishment of a NYC Veterans Chamber of Commerce. This Veterans Chamber of Commerce will assist returning Veterans with setting up businesses. It will also promote Veteran run businesses and help them expand their operations. 6. Overhaul of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs The Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs could play a vital role in the quest to better serve our City’s Veterans. MOVA needs a clear and defined mission as well as adequate funding to assist our City’s Veterans. The total budget for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs is about $500,000.00, of which nearly $400,000.00 goes to salaries for MOVA employees. The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation recently proposed spending more money on fixing one Bocce Ball court in Queens. Our homecoming Veterans need to be made a City priority. One solution for MOVA would be to create certification programs helping a Veteran take skills they learned in the service and apply them to jobs on the home front. One example is taking a Veteran who was a medic on the battlefield & ensuring they become certified to be an EMT or Nurse when they return home. 7. Create A City Council Taskforce on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) The City Council should establish a taskforce on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The taskforce would be tasked with putting a comprehensive City wide plan of action to fight PTSD by 2014. 8. Establish A NYC Back-To-Work Boot Camp For All Veterans This Back-To-Work Boot Camp would be a 1-3 week rigorous program designed to transition returning military personnel to the civilian world. This Back-To-Work Boot Camp would focus on resume writing, mock interviews, developing a career plan. The goal is that upon completion of the Back-To-Work Boot Camp the Veterans become employed.

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