NASSAU COUNTY, N.Y. (PIX11) — As we pay tribute to Americans who died in combat this Memorial Day, we also remember those veterans who survived but returned home to a civilian life of despair. Thousands remain homeless, without jobs, and sadly many die each day by suicide.
Congress and the New York State Legislature have enacted laws to help our veterans, but still they need more help. Now a member of the Nassau County Legislature is introducing a veterans’ bill of rights.
Of the estimated 16.5 million veterans nationwide, 67,000 live on Long Island. Many are in need of mental health care, and thousands of others are in need of a job and a place to live.
“It is time for a 21st-century approach to protecting our veterans,” said Joshua Lafazan, a Democrat from Woodbury.
The Nassau County lawmaker claims too many veterans on Long Island and the rest of the country have been forgotten. For the sacrifices they have made in defense of freedom, he feels it is time to serve their needs with a veterans’ bill of rights, which he lists as “the right to dignified housing, the right to gainful employment, the right to be protected from discrimination.”
A group of veterans who joined the legislator at a local VFW hall applauded his bill, which is aimed at helping our nation’s war heroes. Army veteran John Kennedy echoed Lafazan’s sentiments. “I feel our veterans, the homeless, the unemployed have been neglected too long, and they certainly deserve what they need in this bill,” Kennedy said.
The proposed legislation would also create a task force to study how veterans are being served in the 21st century and what new tools are needed to best serve them. “Times have changed and we haven’t adjusted fast enough,” Lafazan said. “We’ve heard stories about VA facility in Northport, potential changed services, lack of transportation, how can we best use to localize our approach.”
The Nassau County legislator says he expects to have co-sponsors to his veterans’ bill of rights, and he is hopeful it will have the same success as previous measures he’s introduced in support of Long Island’s war heroes.