Disabled veterans who own businesses will be getting a helping hand from New York State.
In a bipartisan agreement reached between the Assembly, Senate and Governor Cuomo’s office, a deal’s been brokered to implement the “Service-Disabled Veterans-Owned Business Act.”
The act’s goal is to award six percent of state contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned businesses. It was advocated for and sponsored by east Bronx Assemblyman Mike Benedetto, who is chairman of the assembly’s Veterans Affairs Committee.
Help for Heros
“Those who put themselves in extreme danger in order to protect our freedom and our way of life deserve our respect, our gratitude and our assistance when they return home,” he said. “We must help these highly skilled veterans find jobs when they return. Supporting the businesses they own is one important way we can do that.”
The new action, which will be implemented through the executive branch to avoid a complicated and costly study, will apply to businesses that are 51% or more owned by a person who is at least 10% percent service-related-disabled, he said.
Benedetto believes that after the law is finalized, it will take effect immediately, though it might take awhile for key provisions to become operational.
This includes creation of an new Division of Service-Disabled Veterans’ Business Development within the Office of General Services. The division will certify businesses for five years that are disabled-veteran owned.
The director of this division will collect information that will later be used to judge the effectiveness of the program, and see if it should be continued or if changes need to be made, said the assemblyman.
Local veteran advocate Pat Devine said that he met with Benedetto, and also spoke to the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, Senator Greg Ball, about the legislation.
Devine said he thinks it will help a good number of the 900,000 veterans in New York State, and that it has been in the works for a number of years.
“You don’t have to be 100% disabled,” said Devine. “I know a lot of veterans who are 10% or 20% disabled, and it is going to help those people at least get a shot at what the state has to offer.”
After several years of advocating for the legislation, he was glad to see it implemented, along with other legislation that’s finally getting the recognition it deserves.
He praised Benedetto’s efforts.
“I see a lot of legislation that Michael is working on that would help veterans, and I am so glad that he is our chairman of veterans affairs, said Devine. “He has a passion for it.”
According to stats released from Benedetto’s office, about one in seven veterans in New York either own their own businesses or are independent contractors. The law complements similar laws in 44 states, according to stats furnished from his office.
“The leadership qualities and specialized skills our troops learn help make them successful business owners stateside,” said Benedetto. “The beauty of this program is we’re spurring job creation while helping veterans and their families get ahead and honoring the sacrifice these brave men and women have made for our country and our state.”