ALBANY - Businesses owned by disabled veterans would achieve preference for procuring state contracts in a bill cosponsored by Senator Catharine Young (R, C, I-Olean).
The NY Jobs for Heroes program mirrors a successful federal initiative and would establish in New York State a three percent contract set-aside for service-disabled veteran businesses in obtaining state contracting and subcontracting opportunities.
"We owe it to our veterans to increase the job opportunities available to them. Too many come home after serving our country only to be unable to find gainful employment. For those who have sustained service-connected disabilities, the debt we owe is even greater. This important bill is one way we can ensure they can come home to New York and have opportunities to thrive as they return to civilian life," said Senator Young.
Pictured are bill sponsors, state senators Greg Ball and Catharine Young.
With one in seven veterans being self-employed or owning a small business, this legislation could have widespread benefits for thousands of New York State veterans. Forty-four other states have already enacted similar legislation. If enacted in New York, the program would be administered by the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs.
"Today's veterans are the most disproportionately underutilized workforce in the country. Recent unemployment figures show that unemployment rates among post-9/11 disabled veterans are around 10 percent, significantly higher than the national average. In serving in the military, our veterans have already demonstrated their strong work ethic and dedication to a job well done. They now need a chance to contribute when they come home.
"Many service-disabled veterans will carry the scars of battle for the rest of their lives. The least we can do is make it possible for them to have a better chance of getting back on sound financial footing and having as positive of a lifestyle as possible as they continue the process of rehabilitation," said Senator Young.
Although the legislation has already passed the State Senate in previous years, its progress in the State Assembly has been stalled. However, in his State of the State address last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo voiced his support for the idea, boosting hopes that combined with the dedicated advocacy of Senator Young and her Senate colleagues, the measure will enjoy renewed potential this year.
New Yorkers can sign a petition supporting the NY Jobs for Heroes program by going to www.nysenate.gov/webform/petition-ny-jobs-heroes-program.
"I was thrilled to hear the Governor talk about his support for the NY Jobs for Heroes Program in his State of the State speech. This makes me very hopeful that the Senate, Assembly, and Governor can work together to finally pass this long-overdue legislation this year. It has been too long in coming, and now is the time for this extremely worthy initiative for our veterans to become law," said Senator Young.