|Sen. Greg Ball|
January 14, 2014In an effort to bring relief to many veterans who have returned home from service to find it is increasingly difficult for physically and emotionally disabled-veterans to find work, Sen. Greg Ball is calling for the passage of legislation that would help put many out of work vets back into the state workforce.
The NY Jobs for Heroes Program (S.2803-b), if passed, would award a preference in state contracts for small businesses owned by disabled veterans. The legislation has passed the Senate repeatedly since it was originally introduced in 2007. In 2009, the bill passed both the Senate and Assembly but was vetoed by former Gov. David Paterson.
During his recent State of the State Address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed support for the concept of giving preference to veteran-owned businesses, saying "Disabled veterans showed us their loyalty; we must show them our loyalty." Cuomo proposed a goal of 5 percent of state contracts geared toward such businesses and said the state would hold a summit this spring to find ways to "make this goal a reality."
Ball, chairman of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said the governor's support is "exactly the kick in the pants this bill needed to make it a reality."
"This issue goes beyond politics in any way," said Ball, a Putnam County Republican. "We do a very good job in this country of getting men and women to raise that right hand and say that I am willing to fight and die for the Unite States of America, but we do not do a great job, either as a state or a nation, in transitioning those men and women back into the workforce."
According to Ball, 44 other states have already passed legislation similar to the NY Jobs for Heroes Program.
Ball was joined by a number of disabled veterans and state lawmakers, including veteran Sen. William Larkin, R–New Windsor, to pressure New York lawamkers to pass the legislation.
"These are volunteers sent to battle by our country," Larkin said. "Here's an opportunity we're going to say to our men and women coming home we respect you, we thank you for your service and we're here to assist you in whatever you need to do."
Eugene Parrotta, a service-connected disabled veteran Purple Heart recipient and chairman of Ball's Veteran's Advisory Council, called New York "disrespectful" for its inability to pass the legislation and for not giving veterans a chance to earn a living.
"Where's the honor? These people here are here because of them, because of you. I serve my senator because he serves me with honor; I expect the state of New York to do no less than serve all the veterans, the ones with the invisible wounds, the ones with the wounds you can see; to serve them with honor," Parrotta said.
Ball plans on holding hearings to promote the Jobs for Heroes programs in New York City and in Albany beginning in mid-February.