Senator Gillibrand Calls For More Than $100 Million in FY24 Federal Funding and Robust Programs Servicing Veterans Living with Disabilities
In honor of the International Day of People with Disabilities, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson held a press conference at the Throggs Neck Memorial Post-American Legion to call for support of New York veterans living with disabilities. Across the country, 4.9 million veterans have a service-connected disability, and veterans with disabilities are disproportionately homeless. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 72% of veterans living in homeless shelters or transitional housing in 2021 had a disability. A champion of American veterans, Senator Gillibrand highlighted federal programs and resources she’s fighting to secure for New York in the FY24 spending package. Following the passage of the Borough President’s resolution declaring November as Veterans Appreciation Month in New York City, she formally announced the appointment of her new Chair to the Bronx’s Veterans Advisory Council and their shared vision to collaborate with elected officials, city agencies and nonprofit partners to ensure Bronx veterans have equitable access to housing, healthcare, and other essential resources in the borough.
They were joined by State Senator Nathalia Fernandez, Assemblymember Michael Benedetto, City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, NYC Department of Veterans’ Services Commissioner James Hendon, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Christina Curry, and Chair of the Bronx Borough President’s Veterans Advisory Council Luis Soltero-Rodriguez.
“It is our duty as Americans to take care of our service members when they return home. Advocating for our nation’s veterans, especially those suffering from disabilities or illnesses, has always been one of my top priorities, and I am proud to stand with Bronx Borough President Gibson to fight for New York’s heroes,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I will continue serving as a relentless advocate in the Senate to bring home federal funding in the FY24 spending package and robust programs to service our veterans living with disabilities. I also fought hard to pass the PACT Act, which now provides life-changing health care and disability benefits to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their service. I encourage all veterans who may be eligible to visit the VA’s website and enroll in PACT Act benefits today. Together, these tools will play a powerful role in combating homelessness in our veteran community and giving our veterans the resources they need to lead healthy and happy lives.”
“Our borough owes a debt of gratitude to our men and women in the armed forces who have committed their lives to keeping our country safe. Their bravery, courage, and heroism is unmatched and serve as an example to us all,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “On this International Day of People with Disabilities, we are joining Senator Gillibrand, advocates and colleagues in government to raise awareness and shed light on the issues impacting our veterans living with disabilities in our borough. It is our responsibility as elected officials to show up for our veterans in the same way that they show up for us and to fight for them in the same way that they fought for our country. I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for her continued partnership and I look forward to working with her and our Veterans Advisory Council to ensure our veterans get the resources and support that they need.”
“Our community is forever grateful to our veterans who have selflessly served our country to allow us to live in the freedoms that we share today. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in government as we underscore the importance of supporting our veterans with disabilities. I look forward to continuing to help Senator Gillibrand in the fight to secure more funding for federal programs and resources for veterans in the FY24 spending package. Furthermore, I am excited to work alongside the new Chair to the Bronx’s Veterans Advisory Council to help ensure that our Bronx veterans have equitable access to housing, healthcare, and other essential resources,” said New York State Senator Nathalia Fernandez.
“Far too often, people with disabilities are overlooked and denied basic services that we take for granted. This is even more disheartening when it comes to veterans with disabilities, who are often made to feel invisible,” said New York City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez. “Partnerships at all levels of government are crucial in fulfilling our promise to our veterans, as a token of gratitude for the sacrifices they made to protect the rights we hold dear. Here in The Bronx, we have worked diligently to uphold our commitment to the men and women who served in our armed forces, and we will continue to do so. I want to express my gratitude to Senator Gillibrand and Bronx Borough President Gibson for their partnership and unwavering efforts to guarantee that our veterans receive equitable access to housing, healthcare, and other essential resources they deserve.”
“On this International Day of People with Disabilities, I am honored to join esteemed leaders such as U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, in advocating for the care and dignity of our veterans living with disabilities,” said New York City Council Member Eric Dinowitz. “My experience as the Chair of the Council’s Veterans Committee led me to introduce a crucial bill that will strengthen the bond between our city agencies and the mental healthcare our veterans justly deserve. By requiring our agencies to ask the essential questions and share data, we can pave the way for earlier interventions and robust support systems. Let us make the most of this moment to reaffirm our commitment to those who have served on behalf of our nation, ensuring that no veteran faces their struggles alone. Together, we can build a city that truly cares for the well-being of those who stepped up to protect our freedom.”
“In observance of International Day of People with Disabilities, we join hands to honor and uplift our veterans living with disabilities,” said New York City Department of Veterans’ Services Commissioner James Hendon. “Today, in solidarity, we amplify their voices of resilience, honor and grace while shining a light on the services available to further empower those who have worn the uniform in service to this nation. May this day serve as a reminder of our shared obligation to ensure that veterans with disabilities, not only have the support and access they deserve, but are met with understanding, respect, and community that supports the veteran’s journey.”
“As we observe the International Day of People with Disabilities, it is essential that we recognize and address the unique challenges faced by our veterans living with disabilities. The efforts of Senator Gillibrand and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson to champion the cause of New York veterans align with our commitment to creating an inclusive and accessible city for all. Through collaboration with elected officials, city agencies, and partners, we can ensure that veterans with disabilities have equitable access to essential resources. Together, we can build a more inclusive New York City that honors and supports the diverse needs of our veteran community,” said Commissioner Christina Curry, New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.
“In recognition of International Day of People with Disabilities, I am honored and grateful to celebrate this awareness day alongside Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, elected officials, Veteran advocates, and my brothers and sisters in arms. We must serve our brave men and women who have served our country honorably and who are living with disabilities. Veterans living with disabilities need the proper care and resources available for their evolving needs. I am honored to serve as the Bronx Borough President’s Veteran Advisory Council Chair. The Bronx Borough President’s Veterans Advisory Council will work effortlessly to survey the needs of our VA community to program VA-specific events, create a network of contacts, leverage technology to advertise resources, and provide advocacy,” said Luis Soltero-Rodriguez.
“America’s wounded warriors, especially those living with disabilities, have given so much to our country and deserve our support,” said Jose Ramos, Vice President of Government Relations for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). “Whether it’s securing additional funding for adaptive home modifications or ensuring that veterans can go through airport security with respect and dignity, WWP is committed to assisting wounded warriors live full and empowered lives. We are proud to celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and appreciate their efforts on behalf of the entire veteran community.”
Senator Gillibrand is fighting to include several priorities to support veterans living with disabilities in the FY24 spending package, including:
- $980 million for the VA’s medical and prosthetic research program. This funding would help VA researchers develop a wide variety of technologies like high-functioning artificial limbs, advanced wheelchair designs, electrical stimulation therapies, and state-of-the-art adaptive devices to help those with hearing or vision loss.
- At least $50 million for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA’s Supportive Housing program. This program pairs HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance with VA case management and supportive services for homeless veterans. The program helps homeless veterans and their families find and sustain permanent housing, health care services, mental health treatment, and substance use counseling.
- Robust funding for Veterans Homelessness Programs, including 1. Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) and 2. Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program. SSVPprovides case management and supportive services to low-income veterans to help prevent homelessness, identify suitable housing, and rapidly re-house veterans and their families. The GPD program provides capital grants and per diem payments to develop and operate transitional housing and service centers for veterans who are homeless.
- PACT Act Health Care Benefits: Senator Gillibrand is also calling on veterans to enroll in health care benefits provided through the PACT Act. Since the bill’s passage, the VA has received over a million PACT Act-related claims and granted benefits to more than half a million people. So far, more than 26,000 New Yorkers have filed claims, and thousands more are still potentially eligible for benefits. People can apply for PACT Act benefits at www.va.gov/. If their claim was previously denied, but their condition is now considered presumptive, they can file a Supplemental Claim online or by mail. A full list of presumptive conditions and locations is available at www.va.gov/resources/the-pact-act-and-your-va-benefits. Veterans who need help with their applications can call the VA’s 24/7 helpline at 800-698-2411, reach out to their local Veterans Service Organization (VSO), or contact Senator Gillibrand’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.