Assemblyman Santabarbara Advocates for Bill Creating the Department of Veterans’ Services

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara announced he is co-sponsoring a bill that would elevate the current New York State Division of Veterans’ Services to a full state department (A.8294-A). This change would allow the department to have a commissioner and ensure all veterans’ programs are accessible in one central location.

“The brave men and women who put their lives on the line for our country are nothing short of heroes,” Santabarbara said. “That’s why I’m working to ensure they have the respect and support they deserve. Upgrading this agency to a state department would help more veterans and their families access important benefits and information. Having served in our nation’s armed forces, you can be sure I’ll always work to make New York State a place service members and veterans are proud to call home.”

Since its establishment over 75 years ago, the Division of Veterans’ Services has remained relatively unchanged and failed to broaden its scope and purpose to better serve New York veterans. Many veterans have found it difficult to access the benefits they’ve earned, as programs and funding span across various agencies instead of falling under one central department.

This bill would establish the Department of Veterans’ Services to be headed by a commissioner and restructure these programs so they are more readily available to veterans and their families. The bill also requires the department to expand its outreach efforts to help connect veterans to education, employment, housing and mental health services that other state agencies may offer. Santabarbara helped pass the bill through the Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and is working to this bill passed in the 2022 legislative session.