The transition from military service might have just become significantly easier for veterans, thanks to the work of NY-18 Representative Sean Patrick Maloney.
On Friday, Nov. 17, Maloney introduced the proposal of a new bill, the Know Your Vets Act, after working alongside the Dutchess County Veterans Agency Director Nelson Rivera and Somers resident Stephanie Keegan, who lost her son shortly after his transition out of the military.
The bill give veterans the option of having their final certificate of discharge paperwork, also known as a DD-214 form, sent to a county Veterans Service Officer (VSO) based on wherever they decide to relocate. This will allow a VSO to actively check up on veterans, ensuring a swifter assimilation out of the military. The opt-in approach would allow veterans to keep their information from being disclosed from the local VSO, their location remaining private should they so choose.
“When Nelson told me that county veterans organizations aren’t notified when a new vet moves here, I just couldn’t believe it,” Maloney wrote in his Nov. 17 press release. “Some folks who serve have a hard time transitioning back to the civilian world, and this bill will help them bridge that gap by getting our veterans services officers the info they need to lend a hand.”
Maloney’s Veterans Advisory Board was instrumental in the crafting of this legislation after Rivera raised concerns over the lack of attention being paid to the transition period veterans go through after duty.
SUNY New Paltz Office of Veteran and Military Services offers those veterans an opportunity to utilize the Veterans Mentorship Program. In the 2015 fall semester, the office was able to engage over 50 students, working on their networking as well as their sense of community and civic duty. The military affiliated student population has grown significantly from 2014 when it consisted of 75 veterans, now reaching just over 350 students this fall semester.
The college was named a “Military Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs. The school also received a Gold Award designation that places New Paltz in the top tier among all small public colleges and universities serving military students nationwide. 2018 will mark New Paltz’s third year receiving this distinction.