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Just ahead of Veterans Day, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a series of bills providing more pathways for veterans to enter the civil service.
One bill establishes the Veterans Internship Program, or VIP, which calls for the allocation of 10 percent of internships in the Assembly Youth Participation program and the Senate Student Program to honorably discharged veterans who are unemployed or underemployed. Veterans participating in the program will receive a stipend that’s equal to what graduate students currently receive: in the Senate, they earn a $50,000 stipend per semester, while interns in the Assembly earn $17,000.
Legislators passed the bill in June, but the VIP program is a long time in the making — a bill proposing the program was first introduced in 2014. Senator James Tedisco, who sponsored the current legislation, is hopeful that the program will help lead veterans into future employment in state government.
“The Veterans Internship Program will provide significant work experience for our veterans to put on their resumes for future long-term employment and it sends the message that our state government truly values the service of our veterans in deeds as well as words,” he said. “As our veterans learn about state government, my colleagues and I and our college and graduate interns will learn from them about patriotism, honor, duty, courage, and perseverance — lessons that our leaders in state government probably need now, more than ever.”
About 3.5 percent of working-age veterans in New York are unemployed.
Hochul also signed off on legislation that will allow more veterans with disabilities to qualify for civil-service jobs. Currently, Section 55-c of the state civil service law allows up to 500 civil-service positions to be filled by disabled veterans who served during wartime. But about 80 percent of these 55-c positions are currently vacant.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, will eliminate the wartime service requirement, allowing more veterans to be eligible for these positions. An estimated 123,000 veterans in New York have a service-related disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Nationwide, 27 percent of employed veterans with a disability work in the public sector, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found.
“Veterans served our country and through this legislation we acknowledge all veterans for their service and ensure that our heroes have a job to come home to, along with the respect and dignity they deserve,” Pheffer Amato said in a statement. “I appreciate Governor Hochul signing this bill into law which removes the ‘wartime service’ requirement for civil service jobs in the 55-C program, opening a new path for employment opportunities to many more veterans.”
Both laws went into effect with the governor’s signature.
Hochul also signed several other bills into law Friday that will benefit veterans, including legislation granting veterans and their families free access to state parks and historic sites. Another requires the Empire State Development Corporation’s small business revolving loan fund to target veteran-owned businesses.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the veterans who risked their lives to serve our country,” Hochul said Friday. “This legislation will provide resources and support to New York’s veterans, honoring their service and recognizing their heroism.”
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