As I travel around the neighborhoods in the 144th Assembly District, I am always struck with great pride at how many homes and businesses are proudly displaying our nation’s flag. This November, with so much to be grateful for — celebrations of thanksgiving with our families and loved ones and remembrances of those who sacrificed so much for our country’s freedoms — I am filled with humility and gratitude for the continued opportunity to serve all of you, most especially our veterans.
When I see the flag flying, I am reminded of my grandfather and his service to our nation in the Navy during World War II. My grandfather has always been a hero to me as someone of strength and character that I aspired to have. Seeing the flag reminds me of his service to our nation and the sacrifices he made by being away from his home and family.
I believe the most important thing we can do to show our gratitude to the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces is to make the most of the opportunities and freedom they have afforded us, to live with bravery, conviction, decency and to work hard for the American Dream. Yet, as your elected representative, I want to do more than that, and that’s why I have fought so hard to improve opportunities for veterans and their families during my first term.
Some of my actions include sponsoring legislation that will extend job opportunities for more veterans, particularly those looking to start or take over ownership of a business (A.6142). I introduced legislation to allow all veterans to rent cabins or cottages in state parks, historic sites and campgrounds free of charge (A.5286-A). I also am sponsoring bills to let veterans obtain SUNY and CUNY credits for military training (A.7879) and help veterans’ organizations obtain funding from local and state governments to make capital improvements (A.8052). All of these bills deserve to come up for a vote in the state Assembly, and I will continue fighting for that to happen.
I will also continue fighting to help pass legislation that improves the quality of life for veterans and all New Yorkers. For anyone to succeed, we must reduce the state’s high taxes and addiction to out-of-control spending. We must break free from the tendency of leadership in Albany to care more about downstate’s needs over the hardworking people of Western New York. I also believe we must do more to help ensure the physical health and mental health needs of all New Yorkers, particularly veterans, and to communicate about existing services we have to help veterans and their families get back on their path to success after service by alleviating any bumps along the road that may come while they are away in active service. A great resource for veterans are the many veterans’ organizations in our community, such as VFWs and American Legions, as well as the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs’ website at www.veterans.ny.gov.
This November as you sit down with your family, friends, and loved ones to enjoy a harvest meal, please join me in remembering the courage and sacrifice made by our veterans, and please join me in helping to support them. Thank you to everyone who has served in our Armed Forces, and I wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.