Fighting For Those Who Fought For Us

Last weekend, we celebrated Memorial Day to honor America’s soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. It was a time of profound remembrance to recognize the men and women who gave their lives in service to our country. This week we are also reminded that the fight for America’s veterans must continue here at home each and every day.

WHY AMERICA’S HEROES NEED OUR CONTINUED HELP

The interest and welfare of veterans was at the center of activity in both the state and federal levels of government this week. In Washington DC, the disturbing scandal regarding the deplorable standards of health care provided to military veterans culminated in the resignation of U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Investigations uncovered that as many as 40 veterans died waiting for care at a Phoenix, AZ facility. Other probes have now begun across the country into dozens of VA hospitals.

It is a heartbreaking story that insults the fabric of what we stand for: American veterans were denied services that could have saved the very lives they risked on our behalf.

DESPITE ROADBLOCKS, WE REMAIN COMMITTED TO HELPING VETERANS

As the son, father, brother and uncle of U.S. veterans, I respect and cherish the role of our military personnel. Protecting the well-being of the individuals who fought for our country is a core principal in the Assembly Republican Conference. Although 12 Republican-sponsored bills were recently blocked by Democrats in the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee, we will continue our fight. I have sponsored legislation that eases the financial burdens placed on veterans and recognizes the service they provided to the country. The measures I have proposed include bills that:

* Exempt honorably discharged veterans from payment of New York Thruway tolls (A.1734).

* Create the “Veteran Owned Business Enterprise Act,” which extends state benefits currently offered to minority- and women-owned business enterprises to all honorably discharged veterans (A.1735).

* Eliminate sporting license fees for honorably discharged, disabled veterans (A.9439).

* Direct the state to waive pavilion rental fees in state parks for recognized veterans’ organizations (A.8152).

As we have witnessed, U.S. veterans need our attention, diligence and respect well beyond the recognition given during national holidays. Their courage and sacrifice deserve nothing short of our best efforts to improve their quality of life in New York and across the country.

What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, e-mail me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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