Monday, June 16, 2014
 

 

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Agreement with legislative leaders on bill to support veterans, servicemembers and military families

ALBANY – An agreement with legislative leaders on a bill to advance educational and professional opportunities for veterans, active servicemembers and their families was announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Delivering on priority issues identified during the Governor’s Veterans and Military Families Summit, the bill eases the transition to a new school for children of military families that relocate as a result of change of duty station, lowers the cost of higher education for Veterans receiving benefits under the GI bills, and offers military family members greater flexibility with professional licenses received from other states or jurisdictions. The bill also strengthens the supplemental burial assistance provided by the state to military families when a servicemember dies in combat or as a result of injuries sustained on the battlefield.

“In New York, our goal is not just to honor and support our veterans and their families one day a year, but truly every day,” Governor Cuomo said. “In March we held the state’s first ever Veterans and Military Families Summit to find new ways that we can support those who serve and their families year-round, and today we have reached an agreement that delivers on that promise. This bill helps children of military families succeed in school, eases the stress of relocating for family members whose jobs rely on their professional licenses, and takes the promise of the G.I. bill further than ever before in New York. This package honors the ultimate sacrifice of those who give their lives in the service of our country. I applaud the leaders of the Senate and Assembly for agreeing on this bill, which will further ensure that our Veterans, servicemembers and their families are supported and recognized each and every day.”

To support the children of military families who transfer between school districts and states, the legislation agreed upon today eases the transition between schools, and works to ensure that they are afforded the same opportunities for educational success as other children and are not penalized or delayed in achieving their educational goals. Specifically, this bill would:

  • Make a transferring child’s transcript and immunization records available as required by the new school,
  • Allow school districts to adjust receiving state-specific course requirements and provide alternative means of completing required coursework in order to facilitate the child’s on-time graduation,
  • Authorize students to graduate with diplomas from their sending state,
  • Ensure that relocating families are not charged local tuition if the child’s military parent lives outside of the receiving school district,  
  • Allow custodians of military children with power of attorney to enroll a student in the absence of their military parent.

Most military children, as a result of one or both of their parents relocating during a 20 to 30 year military career from one installation to another, will attend six to nine different school systems from kindergarten to 12th grade.  There are nearly 12,000 military children attending public schools near Fort Drum in Watertown, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn who would benefit from the enactment of this portion of the bill.

Additionally, this bill allows Veterans who attend a community college, college, or university within the SUNY or CUNY systems under the federal GI bills to qualify for the in-state tuition rate.

The bill would allow the family of servicemembers from New York who were wounded in combat but died from their wounds outside the combat zone to qualify for the supplemental burial allowance. The bill also makes a nonresident eligible for the burial allowance if the deceased was a member of the New York Army or Air National Guard at the time he or she entered federal active duty status. This allowance offsets the family’s burial and funeral costs not covered by the federal government.

Adult family members of servicemembers also face unique challenges, and New York is committed to ensuring that these individuals have access to employment opportunities that ease the burdens of relocation associated with changes of duty station. This bill would allow the spouse, domestic partner, or other member of the household of a servicemember to practice as a real estate broker or a real estate salesperson or obtain a barber or esthetics, cosmetology, natural hair styling and nail specialty license, if he or she has been licensed in another state and relocated to New York with the servicemember.