Guest Op-Ed: Veterans sacrificed to protect us, now it’s our turn to honor them

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New York State is home to more than 900,000 military veterans and families. Their sacrifices have safeguarded our way of life, and without them, our country wouldn’t be nearly what it is today. As a member of the state Assembly, I’m committed to honoring and helping those who have served our country in the military.

In 2012, veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 had an unemployment rate of over 20 percent. Issues facing veterans, besides an already tough job market, include difficulty with translating skills acquired in the military into skills that can be used in the civilian workplace.

The good news, though, is that many companies and government agencies are working on bridging the gap by learning how to read military resumes and facilitating programs to hire vets.

Beginning this month, a law takes effect that allows eligible residents to have their status as a veteran designated on their New York State driver’s license.

Those who qualify can have the word “Veteran” printed on the upper left corner of their newly issued license, learner permit or non-driver photo identification card at no additional charge. As a result, it will be easier for veterans to take advantage of many of the programs, benefits and discounts that are available to them.

I’m working in the Assembly to help our veterans find good-paying jobs. I support several measures, including tax credits for small businesses that hire veterans and the passage of the Veterans Employment Act, which would require the state to develop a list of eligible veterans who would be given priority for temporary staffing jobs in state agencies.

To recognize and thank our heroes for all they’ve done, I also supported a measure to implement a veteran speaker education program for veterans to share their experiences and provide information on American military history.

Another law I helped pass requires the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs to provide an Internet connection to correlate military occupations and skills into civilian translations and terms.

It is important to make sure to take time out to reflect on all that our brave heroes sacrificed for our freedom – and thank them.

As always, if I can be of any assistance on this or any other issue, please feel free to contact my office at 718-232-9565 or via email at [email protected].

Assemblymember Peter Abbate represents the 49th A.D.

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