Monday, December 22, 2014


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Plenty of support at first Veterans and Military Families Summit

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Albany/HV: Cuomo shows support at first ever Veterans and Military Families Summit
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- It was a commitment from the state to those who served.

"New York state will establish a goal of six percent of state contracts to go to disabled vets, a goal as high as any goal in the country, and establish the first state set-aside program to meet that goal," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

That plan was announced by the governor during the first state Veterans and Military Families summit. Forty leaders from all different sectors were brought together to discuss how to better aid New York's veterans and their loved ones.

"I learned as a green beret, you can't do it alone. When I look around this table and see state, local, for-profit, not-for-profit, county and especially the VA sitting here at this table, it's inspiring to see," said Tommy Sowers, the assistant secretary for VA Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.

From the VA in Washington, D.C., Sowers emphasized a continued partnership.

"We're going to keep working very closely with the state and data sharing, and making sure our programs complement each other," he said.

It's all part of working toward the ultimate goal of ensuring our veterans are taken care of. That initiative includes the use of Mobile Vet Centers. The vehicles will travel to every county in the U.S. throughout the next year.

"I look at a specific number: How many veterans are accessing their benefits? And New York is one of the leaders in that," said Sowers.

"Eleven years ago today, I was with the 2nd Tank Battalion going into Iraq, and now, we're here," said Sean Tuckey, a Marine veteran.

Tuckey is now a readjustment counselor, and he's amazed at the opportunities available now. However, he said there is more that can be done, and more men and women to reach.

"I have an obligation to all the Marines I served with who didn't come home, to try and do the best I can to help," said Tuckey.

"We should do the right thing," Cuomo said.

The bill was introduced to both houses on Thursday, and is expected to be voted on in the next few days.

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