Welcome, readers of Community News Group newspapers throughout New York City. Let me begin with a special thank you to Community News Group for providing this opportunity to share with the men and women who serve our country — and with all our readers — news of interest and importance to our veterans community.
In the months ahead, you will be hearing from me — the founding president of the United War Veterans Council of New York, the organization which produces the New York City Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11.
The parade helps focus attention on the debt we owe our veterans, but the Veterans Council does more. We work to make sure that debt is paid.
Lots of the help for which veterans are eligible is delivered by less than adequate systems staffed with less than adequate employees. Here is how it goes: when soldiers are in service and after service, the federal government assumes and continues to assume responsibility for certain health and service connected benefits. New York State did not have a great record of connecting the dots for service members trying to get back in to society until passage this year of the bill that gives disabled veteran business owners a leg up in the awarding of New York State contracts.
The Mayor’s Office of Veteran Affairs, with limited resources, did what it could in past years. The recent increase in funding — $600,000 per year increased to $2.3 million this year — shows the direction in which City Hall is going toward helping the most needy in our community.
Our senior membership organizations have installed leadership that has brought back the glory, pomp, and ceremony to our gatherings that honor service. Membership in veteran organizations is growing and you should consider joining an organization that meets your needs or interests.
It all works as long as all the pieces stay energized on their jobs and perform in our best interest.
In the coming months, we will be talking about how it does or does not all work together for our benefit. Please stay tuned.
Vincent McGowan is a Vietnam veteran, past chairman of the New York City Veterans Advisory Board, and founding president of the United War Veterans Council.