Assemblymember Barrett hosts Veterans Committee hearing on veterans benefits

Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Dutchess/Columbia), chair of the Assembly’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee, hosted a joint public hearing in Albany to examine the ways New York can ensure veterans and military families are getting the support and services they have earned through their service.

“Veterans’ services and programs are provided by the federal, state, and local governments and by not-for-profits,  and I have become increasingly aware of a lack of coordination and communication which results in redundancies in some places and gaps in others when it comes to delivering important services to returning service men and women,” said Barrett. “Our committee heard testimony on improving veterans services for mental health and suicide, legal services, homelessness, and many other topics.”

Barrett was joined by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., chair of the Committee of Local Governments; Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein, chair of the Committee on Cities; and Assemblymember Pamela J. Hunter, chair of the Subcommittee on Women Veterans.

The hearing was intended to review state and local funding and programs available to veterans, as well as evaluate the coordination of services and their effectiveness. The hearing also examined ways to ensure that veterans are aware of the full range of services available to them. Officials from state and local government agencies, as well as advocates and representatives from veterans organizations, gave testimony.

“I have also come to realize that when we talk about veterans services we must also include caregivers, often family members, and that when we talk about health we must ensure parity between mental and physical healthcare services.  The goal of this hearing was to ensure the most effective delivery of services across all of New York State, across all generations of veterans, and across all types of service needs,” Barrett said.

Barrett has been a longstanding advocate for veterans throughout her time in the Assembly. As chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Barrett authored several bills this year to help veterans transition back into civilian life, including measures to ensure all veterans can access and receive benefits and appeal the character of their discharge (A.7289, A.8097, A.8095-A). Barrett also fought for legislation that would create more outdoor-based recreational activities and therapy programs for veterans (A.8094).