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NY Metro Vets- June 2007 Newsletter

June 8, 2007 | Things to Do

LAST NEWSLETTER UNTIL SEPTEMBER!

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NYMetroVets/

This Newsletter Includes the Following Articles:
· VA Announces New Clinic Openings
· VA OIF/OEF Advisory Committee
· Gulf War Syndrome
· 2007 Veteran Legislation Update
· Veteran Claims Court Caseload
· Veterans Disability Claims Keep Piling Up
· GAO Reports (Two)
· Gov. Spitzer Offers War Vets Aid Programs
· NYPD Fallen Patriots Honored
· NYC Could Get Guard WMD Experts
· Beginning of End for USS Intrepid Renovations
· June/July NYC Veteran Events
· My Final Thoughts

VA ANNOUNCES NEW CLINIC OPENINGS: On May 29, 2007, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson announced plans to open 38 new clinics in 22 states. The new facilities, called Community Based Outpatient Clinics, or CBOCs, will become operational by October 2008. Local VA officials will keep communities and their veterans informed of milestones in the creation of the new CBOCs. The VA’s proposed sites for the New Outpatient Clinics are:
Alabama — Childersburg
Arkansas — Pine Bluff
Florida — Jackson & Putnam
Georgia – Camden County & Stockbridge Cityy
Idaho — North Idaho
Indiana — Elkhart County & Knox
Iowa — Carroll, Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown & Shenandoah
Kansas — Hutchison
Kentucky — Madison (Berea), Daviess & Grayson County
Maryland — Andrews Air Force Base & Ft. Detrick
Michigan — Alpena County & Clare County
Missouri — Branson &Jefferson City
Montana — Cut Bank & Lewistown
Nebraska — Bellevue
Ohio — Hamilton & Parma
South Carolina — Aiken & Spartanburg
South Dakota — Wagner & Watertown
Tennessee — Hawkins & Madison
Utah — Western Salt Lake Valley
Virginia — Charlottesville
Washington — Northwest
West Virginia – Monongalia [Source: VA PR, 29 May 07]

VA OIF/OEF ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson announced on May 8, 2007 the formation of a formal, 17-person committee that will advise him on ways to improve VA programs serving veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and their families. The panel will report directly to the Secretary who is asking for their ideas and input on how VA can consistently ensure world-class service to America’s newest generation of heroes, particularly severely disabled veterans and their families. The Secretary’s announcement about the Affairs VA panel, called the Advisory Committee on OIF/OEF Veterans and Families, comes on the heels of his presentation April 24, 2007 of recommendations from a presidential task force to improve services to the nation’s newest generation of combat veterans. The committee, to be chaired by retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, consists of OIF and OEF wounded veterans, family members, survivors, leaders of the major veterans organizations and long-time veterans advocates.

The new OIF/OEF advisory committee’s inaugural meeting started May 14, 2007 in Alexandria, VA to discuss its general work program, future meeting dates, and plans for site visits to VA facilities around the country. The schedule includes briefings by senior officials of VA’s key programs, comments by members of the public who register in advance with the committee, discussions about “seamless transition” goals and procedures affecting combat veterans moving from the military to civilian life.

Members of the committee are: Lt.Gen. Barno of Washington DC; Dawn Halfaker of Washington DC; Lonnie Moore of San Diego CA; Jack L. Tilley of Riverview FL; Gary Wilson of Carlsbad CA; Liza Biggers of New York City; Pam Estes of Dayton MD; Caroline Maney of Shalimar FL; Kimberly Hazelgrove of Lorton VA; Michael Ayoub of Ashburn VA; Rocky McPherson of Tallahassee FL; John Sommer of Annandale VA; Dennis Donovan of Atlanta GA; Frances Hackett of South Plainfield NJ; Paul F. Livengood of Manassas VA; Tim McClain of Alexandria VA; and Chris Yoder of Baltimore MD. Those seeking more information about the committee or who wish to register to make a statement of up to five minutes should contact VA’s Tiffany Glover by e-mail at: tiffany.glover@va.gov [Source: VA PR, 8 May 07]

GULF WAR SYNDROME: Scientists working with the Department of Defense have found evidence that a low-level exposure to Sarin nerve gas could have caused lasting brain deficits in former service members. The study, financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the first to use Pentagon data on potential exposure levels faced by the troops and magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of military personnel in the exposure zone. Though the results are preliminary, the study is notable for being financed by the federal government and for being the first to make use of a detailed analysis of Sarin exposure performed by the Pentagon, based on wind patterns and plume size. The report, to be published in the June issue of the journal NeuroToxicology, found apparent changes in the brain’s connective tissue (its so-called white matter) in soldiers exposed to the gas. The study found the extent of the brain changes corresponded to the extent of exposure (i.e. less white matter and slightly larger brain cavities). White matter volume varies by individual, but studies have shown that significant shrinkage in adulthood can be a sign of damage.

Previous studies had suggested that exposure affected the brain in some neural regions, but the evidence was not convincing to many scientists. The new report is likely to revive the long-debated question of why so many troops returned from that war with unexplained physical problems. Many in the scientific community have questioned whether the so-called gulf war illnesses have a physiological basis, and far more research will have to be done before it is known whether those illnesses can be traced to exposure to Sarin. The long-term effects of Sarin on the brain are still not well understood. But several lawmakers who were briefed on the study say the DVA is now obligated to provide increased neurological care to veterans who may have been exposed. Phil Budahn, a spokesman for the DVA, said the research required further examination. “It’s important to note that its authors describe the study as inconclusive,” Mr. Budahn said, adding, “It was based upon a small number of participants, who were not randomly chosen.”

In March 1991, a few days after the end of the gulf war, American soldiers exploded two large caches of ammunition and missiles in Khamisiyah, Iraq. Some of the missiles contained the dangerous nerve gases Sarin and Cyclosarin. Based on wind patterns and the size of the plume, the Department of Defense has estimated that more than 100,000 American troops may have been exposed to at least small amounts of the gases. When the roughly 700,000 deployed troops returned home, about one in seven began experiencing a mysterious set of ailments, often called gulf war illnesses, with problems including persistent fatigue, chronic headaches, joint pain and nausea. According to the DVA those symptoms persist today for more than 150,000 of them, more than the number of troops exposed to the gases. Advocates for veterans have argued for more than a decade and a half that a link exists between many of these symptoms and the exposure that occurred in Khamisiyah, but evidence has been limited. [Source: The New York Times, 17 May 07]

2007 VETERAN LEGISLATION UPDATE: The House passed six bills before the Memorial Day recess to expand benefits and services for veterans. The bills now move to the Senate for consideration. A brief description is provided below:
* HR 0067 establishes a grant program for state veterans outreach activities.
* HR 0612 extends eligibility for health care for combat service in the Persian Gulf or future hostilities from two years to five years after discharge or release.
* HR 1470 requires VA to provide chiropractic care and services at all medical centers by 2011.
* HR 1660 directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region.
* HR 2199 authorizes five new research centers for the treatment of individuals with traumatic brain injuries. It also authorizes $7.5 million for a pilot program of mobile veterans’ centers to improve access to readjustment counseling for returning veterans.
* HR 2239 expands eligibility for vocational rehabilitation benefits to servicemembers awaiting medical discharge.
[Source: VFW Washington Weekly 25 May 07]

VETERAN CLAIMS COURT CASELOAD: A special federal court that hears veterans’ disability appeals is facing its highest caseload ever because the government, receiving an increasing number of benefit claims, is also rejecting more of them, the court’s chief judge said Tuesday.
The judge, William P. Greene Jr., who presides over the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, told a House Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee that the court had had to recall five retired judges in recent months to assist with backlogs of appeals by veterans unhappy with the denial of benefits or with the level of benefits allowed.

In the first half of the current fiscal year, the court was among the busiest of any at the federal appellate level. In those six months, 2,542 appeals were filed, the most ever for two consecutive quarters, compared with 3,729 for all of the previous fiscal year.
The numbers reflect a sharp increase in denials by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, an agency of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Denial of benefits jumped to 13,033 in the 2005 fiscal year, from 9,299 in 2004. Last year, the number of denials reached 18,107, according to the court. If the court is to keep up with the workload, it will need a larger staff and more building space, Judge Greene told the subcommittee.

The judge testified against a backdrop in which several Congressional panels are studying ways to improve veterans’ care. One goal is to reduce the backlog of claims for disability benefits. In a study this year, a Harvard professor, Linda J. Bilmes, said it took up to 177 days for the V.A. to process an initial claim and then an average of 657 days to process an appeal, a pace resulting in significant hardship to veterans. [Source: AP, 23 May 07]

VETERANS DISABILITY CLAIM KEEP PILING UP: Two pieces of good news for veterans — a possible $6.5 billion increase in the 2008 Veterans Affairs Department budget and passage of six bills in the House to improve veterans programs — were overshadowed by a discussion that showed there is no quick or easy solution to the huge backlog of veterans’ disability benefits claims.

Retired Navy Vice Adm. Daniel Cooper, VA’s undersecretary for benefits, who has spent five years wrestling with claims processing, said headway is proving difficult because new claims are being filed faster than old claims can be handled. In fiscal 2006, the VA received 806,382 claims, and expects 811,000 this fiscal year, he said.

Claims also are becoming more complicated, he said. More than 25 percent include eight or more disabling conditions, each of which must be weighed. And more cases involve chronic progressive disabilities, such as cardiovascular problems and diabetes, which will worsen and likely result in additional claims, if only to increase a disability rating.

The $6.5 billion increase in VA funding approved by a House Appropriations subcommittee will help modestly by allowing the VA to hire 1,500 more claims staff. But Cooper cautioned that “increased staffing levels do not produce immediate production improvements,” and in fact could slow things down as experienced staffers are diverted to help new employees learn procedures. It could be a year or more before improvements are seen, he said.
The VA has about 800,000 claims pending, about 400,000 involving disability claims. The rest are changes in status or requests for education benefits that are not generally considered a problem.

Cooper said 300,000 disability claims pending at any one time would be normal, considering the volume of claims and the goal of processing them in about 120 to 145 days, which by his count puts the VA behind by about 100,000 claims.

That number could grow as Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans file new claims. Although about 1,800 World War II veterans pass away each day, the number of veterans getting disability benefits is rising because current operations are creating more veterans, and new laws have expanded benefits eligibility and encouraged more people to apply for assistance.
Hiring more claims workers is a conventional step to tackling a backlog, but there is a bipartisan mood on the committee to do more. Interim steps include spending more money on staff overtime, bringing back retired claims processors to help and contacting veterans by phone rather than mail when there are simple questions about claims, he said.
One of the six bills passed by the House could make the claims backlog even larger by expanding outreach efforts to tell veterans about available benefits. None of the bills will become law until passed by the Senate, where the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is still wading through a pile of proposals. [Navy Times, May 31, 07]

GAO REPORTS: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on May 25th released the following two reports:
(1) Veterans’ Employment and Training Service: Labor Could Improve Information on Reemployment Services, Outcomes, and Program Impact.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07594.pdf

(2) GAO Findings and Recommendations Regarding DOD and VA Disability Systems.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07906r.pdf

[Source: Navy Times, 25 May 07]

GOVERNOR SPITZER OFFERS WAR VETS AID PROGRAMS: Governor Eliot Spitzer, tackling a variety of problems affecting New York State’s war veterans, has announced a $10 million program to provide vets with low-interest mortgages.

The governor’s announcement also included a program of expanded social services for veterans and their families. These address the multiple needs of military families dealing with lengthy deployments overseas and with the stress of service during times of war.
The state offices of Mental Health (OMH), Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), Children and Family Services (OCFS), and Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) will offer the various programs.

Spitzer’s plan, which was announced several days after he visited Fort Drum upstate, also includes some special programs for vets and their families residing in towns near Fort Drum.
Under the $10 million low interest mortgage plan for eligible vets, the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) will provide mortgage rates “substantially lower than conventional financing”, according to the governor’s office.

In addition, closing cost assistance, construction incentives and remodeling financing provided by SONYMA would greatly increase the ability of vets to buy a home or improve one they already own, the story said. [Source: Western Queens Gazette, 30 May 07] Note: The NYS Division of Veterans Affairs has released the details of the plan. It can be seen at: www.veterans.state.ny.us/PressReleases/2007/sonymadvapr052907.htm

NYPD FALLEN PATRIOTS HONORED: The father of Officer James McNaughton – killed in 2005 in Iraq – said there was no finer tribute to his son than the one he received from the Police Department.

The Armed Forces Memorial plaque unveiled at One Police Plaza in Manhattan bears the names city cops killed in battle since World War I and is the first plaque to greet visitor’s to Police Memorial Lobby.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told the Daily News in April that the death of James McNaughton, who lived in Centereach, L.I., gave impetus to a project to honor NYPD officers killed in combat.

“Until now, there was a group that we never formally recognized. We are indebted to them for our most cherished freedoms,” Kelly told yesterday’s audience. “This is a sacred domain, and we welcome the heroes of World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the ongoing war in Iraq.” [NY Daily News, 31 May 07]

NYC COULD GET GUARD WMD EXPERTS: New York City may soon be able to add a team of experts on weapons of mass destruction to its lineup of emergency first responders, gaining access to a terrorism-fighting tool already in place in cities like Topeka and Boise but not here, lawmakers said.

Lawmakers say the weapons team is crucial in New York City because of the general consensus that it is America’s No. 1 terrorist target, although officials often claim that the city routinely gets shortchanged on federal homeland security funding.

Known as a civil support team and made up of 22 members of the Army and Air Force National Guard, the “elite terror response team” would be on call for any crisis involving chemical, biological or radiological agents that could inflict mass casualties.

In a joint statement, Reps. Vito Fossella and Peter King said the proposal had recently “cleared several hurdles” to gain congressional approval and $4.8 million for startup costs and $3 million in separate funding. The unit would be the states second but the first in the metropolitan area at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. Another team already is located at Stratton Air National Guard Base near Scotia upstate, about 20 miles north of Albany. What remains is for Congress to approve adding two CSTs to the 55 now in existence nationwide and add more money for fiscal 2008.

New York’s congressional delegation has complained vigorously to the Bush administration that funds for homeland security were being funneled to states and small cities where the actual terrorist threat was minimal compared to New York.

In a WMD-related crisis, the response team uses a state-of-the-art mobile laboratory to identify chemical, biological or radiological contaminants and toxic substances, offer medical and technical expertise and establish communications links with other agencies.
The upstate team has responded more than 60 times since it came into existence in 2001, but it was deemed not adequate for the entire state.

“Because New York City is such a target for would-be terrorists, it is vital to have an additional CST located downstate,” said Rep. King. [Source: AP, 22 May 07]

BEGINNING OF END FOR USS INTREPID RENOVATIONS: The historic aircraft carrier the Intrepid begins the last leg of its two-year renovation on June 6, 2007, marking the 63rd anniversary of D-Day, one of the most momentous events of World War II.

A ceremony to welcome the Intrepid to Staten Island, and to honor the allies who stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, is planned at the Homeport Pier.

“We picked D-Day to move Intrepid to commemorate the victorious Normandy landing and to remember the thousands of servicemen who sacrificed and served to save Europe from the ultimate terrorist,” Bill White, president of the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Former Intrepid crew members, Commander Eric Christensen of the Coast Guard and public officials are to participate in the laying of a wreath to honor those who lost their lives at D-Day.

The sparkling USS Intrepid is fresh from its body scrub and makeover, including a stem-to-stern painting with 7,000 gallons of traditional naval haze-gray — enough to cover about 400 large houses.

The 41,000-ton ship turned military museum was refloated over the weekend aafter two months in drydock in Bayonne, N.J., where it underwent the exterior overhaul, including repairs to its weather corroded keel.

On Staten Island, the war veteran will undergo an extensive interior refurbishment, including the installation of new high-tech exhibits and state-of-the-art visuals and interactive displays. The work is expected to take 18 months to complete.

“The greatest outcome of these renovations would be to bring the ship alive to her old glory days,” White said, “to demonstrate how amazing all our service men and women have been and still are in defending our freedom.”

Intrepid is scheduled to return to Pier 86 in the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side on Veterans Day 2008, when “a Superbowl of ship returns” is planned, White said.

The museum will be taking a new “green” approach, changing lighting to conserve energy and requiring vendors to use environmentally friendly material — even the film used to photograph guests.

The $70 million project, including $8 million in Intrepid renovations and $50 million to rebuild the aging, city-owned Pier 86 — is being paid for by private contributions and by public funding.

So far, $4.5 million in private and corporate conntributions have been raised, with $3.5 million more needed to cover the cost of Intrepid’s renovations alone.

The Intrepid, launched in 1943, survived five Japanese kamikaze suicide plane attacks and lost 270 crew members in the last two years of the Pacific war, spearheading the naval defeat of Japan. It served during World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars and as a recovery ship for NASA astronauts.

If the need arises, it could be used for government emergency operations; it served as an FBI command center after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. [Source: WCBS-2, 5 June 07]

JUNE/JULY VETERAN EVENTS IN NYC: The following is a list of events that are taking place throughout the five boroughs during the month of June (with two events in July). This list is not all inclusive and other events may be taking place throughout the city. Any other events will be posted separately. Please pass on to others.

June 13, 2007 – Saint Vincent’s Hospital – Manhattan and World Trade Center Healing Services are hosting their 2nd “Mind, Body & Spirit Health Fair” from 10 AM to 3 PM at the Church of Saint Andrew, 20 Cardinal Hayes Place at Police Plaza (Behind the Municipal Building). Please join us for a variety of activates and Community Health Resources. The World Trade Center Healing Services provides counseling to Adults, Children, Families, Volunteers, Veterans and Rescue & Recovery workers, as well as ear acupuncture for stress management to the NYC community, all at no charge. For more information, please call (212) 346-2582.

June 14, 2007 – The Army’s 232nd birthday (Flag Day).

June 14, 2007 – The USS THE SULLIVANS (DDG-68) will be docking at the Staten Island Homeport, 355 Front Street to commemorate the 10th anniversary of her commissioning there. Ship’s tours will be conducted June 15 and June 16. If you would like more information regarding this event, please contact Lee Covino at (718) 816-2034.

June 14, 2007 – The Manhattan Vet Center presents an Open House Holistic Health and Benefits Fair. All are invited to attend. This event will take place from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Manhattan Vet Center, located at 32 Broadway, Suite 200. There will be Stress Relaxation, Chair Massage, Acupuncture, Yoga and Anger Control Training. For more information or directions, call the Manhattan Vet Center at (212) 742-9591.

June 14, 2007 – Commemoration service in observance of the 232nd anniversary of the organization of the United States and Flag Day, will be held at the 307th Infantry Regiment Memorial Grove in Central Park from 11 AM to 2 PM. MGen William Terpeluk, Commanding General of the 77th Regional Readiness Command at Fort Totten will be in attendance. If you would like to attend, please respond to LTC Eugene Grossman at 718-224-7126.

June 14, 2007 – The New York Daily News, Commerce Bank and the Veterans Business Network present Veterans Business Networking Night. Veterans, National Guard & Reserve Members are invited to an exclusive event to help build your business and your network. This event will take place from 6 PM – 9 PM at the Copacabana, 560 West 34th Street (@ 11th Avenue), New York. Event highlights include:
*Briefing on Iraq and Afghanistan by Col. Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and military analyst for NBC news.
*Presentation on National and New York Regional Economic Outlook.
*Silent auction to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
*Networking with Veterans, National Guard & Reserve Members.
Space is limited. Admission is $30 dollars (which includes open bar and hors d’oeuvres) and pre-registration at: www.vbnevents.com is required.

June 18, 2007 – The Manhattan Vet Center presents the 24th Annual “Hidden Client Conference.” This year’s title is: “PTSD Re-Deployed: Our Continued Commitment.” This event will take place at the Hunter College School of Social Work (129 East 79th Street -Lexington & 79th Street) and runs from 9 AM until 4 PM.
Registration starts at 8:30 AM and the Registration Fee is: $20 NASW Members, $25 Non-Members, $10 for Students, Retired and those who are Unemployed (Unemployed Veterans FREE). This year there are two keynote speakers: Trish Wood, author of “What Was Asked of Us” – an oral history of the Iraq War and Miklos F. Losonczy, MD, PhD., Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences for the Veterans Administration-NJ Healthcare System. The workshops will take place after the keynote speeches and in the afternoon. For more information, contact Jack Maloney at (212) 742-9591.

June 20, 2007 – NYC Council Veterans Committee Hearing. The City Council Veterans Committee, chaired by CM Hiram Monserrate will be holding a hearing. The topic of this hearing is TBD. This hearing will take place at 1 PM at 250 Broadway, 14th Floor Hearing Room (Manhattan). All are invited to attend and testify.

June 20, 2007 – The US General Service Administration (GSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are hosting their 5th Annual Veteran’s Small Business Resource Day at 26 Federal Plaza, 6th Floor Conference Center, NYC from 9:00 AM until 1 PM (Registration from 8:00 AM to 9 AM). Co-sponsored by the US Small Business Administration and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, this event will help veteran and service-disabled veteran owned small businesses to discover Federal Government procurement opportunities and various veteran programs and services. All are invited to attend. You must pre register online at: http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/eventView.do?viewType=DETAIL&eventId=4979&occurId=1549. (Please select “Registration Online Now,” on the upper right hand side of this page, to register. Photo ID is required. Bring flyer and confirmation e-mail. If you have any questions please call: 212-264-8265 or email: r2.sbuc@gsa.gov.

June 23, 2007 – Twilight Tattoo. The Annual “Twilight Tattoo” will be presented this year in Marine Park starting at 5:30 PM with pre-TLT music by the Army Band. Please bring a lawn chair or blanket.

June 24, 2007 – HOPE & POSSIBILITY 5-mile race. Calling all New York City Veterans! Join us and walk, run or just cheer as members of our Achilles FREEDOM TEAM of Wounded Vets join us for this race. We will also have members from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical, and Balboa Naval Hospital along with wounded veterans that are already out of the hospital, and either retired, or back to active duty! This will be an awesome event! After the race we will have an awards ceremony near the Start/Finish line at the Disability Awareness Pavilion at approximately 11 AM. For more information regarding this event, including registration, please visit:

http://achillestrackclub.org/hopeandpossibility/index_NY.html

June 24, 2007 – Rolling Thunder Inc., Chapter 1 NY invites all to its “8th Annual Veterans Recognition Day in the Park.” This event honors all those who served our country and remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those still missing – POW’s and MIA’s. The event will take place from 11 AM to 11 PM, Rain or Shine at the Asser Levy Park Bandshell, Surf Avenue & West 5th Street in Brooklyn, NY. This location is near the NY Aquarium and is easily accessible via Public Transportation. There will be a Motorcycle Run departing at 10 AM (with NYPD escort) from Staten Island to Asser Levy Park. Registration starts at 8:30 AM in Eltingville Transit Center Park and Ride, 87 Wainwright Ave, Staten Island. For more information, contact Lee at (718) 447-4484 or e-mail: LTCAnderson12@aol.com.
June 26, 2007 – NYC Council Finance Committee Hearing. The City Council Finance Committee, chaired by CM David Weprin will be holding a hearing. The topic of this hearing will be: Res. 42 – Resolution calling upon the New York State Legislature to amend the New York Real Property Tax Law, in relation to extending partial property tax exemption provisions of such sections to the school tax portion of New York State property taxes for qualified veterans. This hearing will take place at 10 AM in the Committee Room at City Hall. This hearing was scheduled after CM Avella forced the issue with the Speaker by filing a Sponsor’s Privilege request pursuant to the Rules of the Council. All are invited to attend and testify and CM Avella is looking to veterans throughout the city to come out in a strong show of support for this resolution.

July 1, 2007 – Staten Island Yankees Military Appreciation Night. From 4 PM to 8 PM, the Staten Island Yankees and Staten Island Supports Our Soldiers (SISOS) will sponsor the 1st annual Military Appreciation Night honoring active duty personnel and veterans of all ages. For further information call 718-966-5866 or 718-273-5707.

July 8, 2007 – USO Metropolitan NY/Avenue of the Americas Summer festival. (Street Fair) will take place from 11 AM to 6 PM from 42nd to 56th Street (along 6th Avenue).

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Fleet Week/Memorial Day Weekend.

With the summer upon us, and this being the last newsletter until September, I once again ask everyone to please, please, please join NYMetroVets and keep up with New York City Veteran news, issues and events. The site is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NYMetroVets/.
For those not aware, CM Monserrate’s Chief of Staff, Ms. Bridget Fisher has left for new endeavors. Ms. Fisher was heavy involved in working with veterans to obtain $5 million dollars for resource centers here in New York City as well as working on other veteran’s issues. As we say in the Navy, I wish Ms. Fisher fair winds and following seas with much success.
Lastly, as always – please pass this newsletter on to others. If you need to reach me, my e-mail address is: bjoe7@hotmail.com. So take care, have a wonderful summer and and until September….

Joseph Bello, NYC Veterans Advocate