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May, 2012

As the Afghanistan war comes to an end, and veterans begin to return home, Chairman Felix W. Ortiz and the New York State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force members are determined to come together and address the needs of our service men and women. These individuals have risked their lives to ensure our freedoms; their selfless actions should be applauded and rewarded.

In this tough economy, many veterans will return home with few employment options or opportunities. Currently, the unemployment rate for veterans in the country is 29%, which is three times that of a civilian. This number is shameful; we must take action to ensure that these individuals are provided with opportunities to gain meaningful employment, said Assemblyman Ortiz. Combined with the unemployment challenge that many veterans face, a large number are suffering from debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as other forms of mental illness. Chairman Ortiz has introduced numerous pieces of legislation that would provide peer support services to address PTSD, substance abuse counseling, and information on access to services.

Assemblyman Philip Ramos joins Ortiz in this endeavor: We have a moral obligation to ensure those who fought for our freedoms are provided every opportunity to go on and lead productive lives once their duty to our country has ended. As Chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I have worked tirelessly to ensure our veterans are afforded those opportunities. I sponsored legislation that would give businesses an incentive to hire returning veterans (A.8837B, A.8933) and provide assistance to service-disabled veterans in creating and establishing their own businesses (A.9406). Veterans who have served this country deserve our gratitude and our help assimilating back to civilian life.

The New York State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force will continue to push for the passage of these and other bills aimed at supporting our State’s veterans and providing them with the opportunities they will need to succeed on the home front. As our Nation’s veterans begin to return home, we must remember the sacrifices that they have made and be thankful for all that they have done to protect our country and our citizens, said Ortiz.


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