Assemblyman Santabarbara: State Budget Includes Measure to Create New State Department of Veterans’ Services

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara announced passage of a bill he co-sponsored to elevate the state Division of Veterans’ Services to a department-level agency with a commissioner (A.9006-C) that was included in this year’s state budget.

“New York State has a wide variety of programs and services for veterans, but they’re unfortunately not in one centralized location,” said Santabarbara. “To better support the brave men and women who’ve served our nation honorably, I fought to include this provision in our state budget and create a new Department of Veterans’ Services. By making it easier to access critical information, the new department will help ensure more veterans are taking advantage of the benefits available to them. As this session continues, I’ll keep working to advance additional legislation that uplifts military members, veterans and their families.”

Included in the Education, Labor and Family Assistance budget bill, the measure creates a new Department of Veterans’ Services and establishes a new Veterans’ Services Law. By centralizing programs and benefits, the department will help raise the percentage of veterans who are accessing their earned benefits and better address longstanding issues, such as tackling the specific needs of women veterans and expanding services. The provision also allows programs in other departments, such as the Joseph P. Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Support Program that helps veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and similar challenges, to move to the new Department of Veterans’ Services.

As a former member of the U.S. Army Reserves and member of the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Santabarbara has been a committed and dedicated advocate for veterans. Last year, he co-sponsored and passed a law that enables veterans or reservists to receive benefit information when seeking a non-driver ID card or veteran notation on a driver’s license (Ch. 602 of 2021). To expand access to veterans’ treatment courts, Santabarbara co-sponsored and passed legislation to allow a criminal case against a veteran in a county without one of these specialized courts to be transferred to adjoining county that does (Ch. 91 of 2021).