Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Huntington, 10th AD) announced his support for legislation to expand outdoor-based recreation opportunities for veterans in the Assemblys Committee on Veterans Affairs. The bill passed the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs and was referred to the Assembly Rules Committee. Additionally, Assemblyman Stern co-sponsored pending legislation to establish a tax-credit to allow Gold Star parents, those who have lost a child in the line of military duty, to claim a tax credit for surviving children each year until they reach 18 years of age.
Yesterday, the Assembly unanimously passed Assemblyman Sterns initiative to expand access to information for veterans regarding services to which they are entitled, along with an earlier measure to direct the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs to post a list of county and city veterans services agencies. Assemblyman Stern also co-sponsored legislation to enhance access to Veterans Courts, which provide support, counseling and alternatives to incarceration, a program modeled on Suffolk Countys very successful problem-solving courts.
Stern has dedicated his career in public service to serving our military, reservists, guard and veterans and their families. As Suffolk County Legislator, he served as the Chairman of the Veterans Committee for his entire 12 year tenure, authoring landmark legislation, including the Housing Our Homeless Heroes Act, to help ensure that our veterans receive needed services, and effectively ended veterans homelessness on Long Island.
As Legislator, he also authored the Protect our Fallen Heroes Act, which protects military funerals from reprehensible and disrespectful protests while families are grieving the loss of their loved ones to ensure respect for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation. He also supported numerous initiatives to provide real property tax exemptions to veterans and their families, waive parks and civil service exam fees, supported student veterans at Suffolk County Community College and peer-to-peer counseling and support services for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
As a member of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee, I have the privilege of working with and for the brave men and women who sacrifice so much to protect our great nation and with their families, Assemblyman Stern said. Many of our veterans return home with physical and emotional traumas related to their service. This legislation will offer them new opportunities so they can heal and transition back to civilian life.
The Outdoor Rx Act would facilitate collaboration between state agencies, veterans organizations and nonprofits to coordinate the use of lands to benefit veterans. Outdoor and nature-based activities can have an invaluable therapeutic effect on those struggling with service-related traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or substance abuse disorder.
We owe the brave men and women currently serving, our veterans and their families not only a tremendous debt of gratitude, but also meaningful support, Stern said. I am proud to support these critically important programs for our veterans and express our thanks for all that they do to protect our freedom and our way of life.