ALBANY – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed five pieces of legislation to further support New York veterans by improving healthcare and services, as well as memorialize veterans throughout New York State in a number of different ways.
The package includes:
- Adding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a qualifying condition in New York’s medical marijuana program;
- Providing combat veterans employed by the State with additional days of paid leave to obtain health services, counseling and access to other benefits;
- Waiving the civil service examination fee for veterans who were honorably discharged;
- Requiring the Department of State and Division of Military and Naval Affairs to maintain a public list of all not-for-profit corporations that solicit funds for the armed forces of the United States; and
- Directing the Office of General Services to set aside a publicly accessible location within the State Capitol building for a POW/MIA chair and plaque to honor those veterans who have not yet returned home.
“Our veterans risked their lives in order to defend the ideals and principles that this nation was founded upon and it is our duty to do everything we can to support them when they return home,” Governor Cuomo said. “From improving access to healthcare treatments and services, to removing barriers to employment, all five of these bills take important steps to ensure that veterans have every opportunity to continue succeeding when they return home.”
The first bill (S.5629 (Savino)/ A.7006 (Gottfried)), adds Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, as the twelfth condition that makes New Yorkers eligible to access the state’s medical marijuana program. PTSD is a serious condition that involves a person developing symptoms after experiencing a traumatic stressor, including anger, flashbacks, nightmares, night sweats, numbing, insomnia, and avoidance. It is estimated that approximately 19,000 patients with PTSD in New York could benefit from the use of medical marijuana. This includes military veterans, police officers and fire fighters, as well as survivors of domestic violence, rape, violent crime, and accidents. Virtually every state in the country with a medical marijuana program allows for treatment of PTSD.
The second bill (S.2911 (Croci)/A.3198 (Paulin)), provides combat veterans employed by the state with additional days of leave to obtain health services, counseling and access to other benefits. The experiences of combat take their toll on combat veterans, both physically and emotionally, and additional leave for health-related services is needed to help address the traumas they faced, both abroad and at home.
The third bill (S.946 (Croci)/A.1105 (Hunter)), supports veterans seeking employment by waiving the application fee required to take a civil service examination. One of the most difficult aspects ofreturning to civilian life for veterans can be finding quality employment. Waiving this fee shows our gratitude to these brave men and women as they seek opportunities in the public sector.
The fourth bill (S.1853 (Croci)/A.6038 (Dinowitz)), requires the New York Department of State and Division of Military and Naval Affairs to maintain a public list of all not-for-profit corporations that solicit funds on behalf of the armed forces. Current law requires the Adjutant General of the New York National Guard to sign off on any not-for-profit that solicits funds or other benefits for the armed forces of the United States, a foreign country, or the auxiliaries of any state. Making this information publicly available will help New Yorkers, who wish to make donations to not-for-profits incorporated for the purpose of supporting our armed forces, ensure that they are donating to approved organizations.
The final bill (S5540 (Lazna)/A7506 (DenDekker)) directs the New York State Office of General Services to place POW/MIA chair and plaque in the State Capitol to memorialize the thousands of service members who remain unaccounted for since World War I. This dedication serves as just one way to remember the brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who have been held captive or never returned home from war. The memorial chair and plaque will be placed in the Capitol’s first floor lobby near the State Street entrance.