This Monday we celebrated Memorial Day, an American tradition since 1971 in which we collectively pause to honor those patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice to this nation.
The debt of gratitude we owe these heroes, spanning decades of service in the armed forces protecting America, is immeasurable.
We must continue to be cognizant that freedom is never free, and that in a perilous world, we sleep safely at night precisely because of those soldiers fighting for us.
As we celebrate Memorial Day, we must also take this important moment to renew our commitment to taking care of those veterans right here in Nassau.
With 16.5 million veterans in the United States, 67,000 of those vets call Long Island home. And it is categorically true that while these heroes have upheld their end of the contract to protect and serve this nation, we haven’t adequately fulfilled our end to care for them when they come back home.
Across the country fewer than 50 percent of returning veterans in need receive any mental health treatment. Some 250,000 veterans in America are unemployed and in need of work. And with 68,000 homeless veterans in America, there are 5,000 vets right here in Nassau who are at risk of homelessness.
Now more than ever, this moment requires action. And that’s why I have proposed the creation of a 21st Century “Veterans’ Bill of Rights.”
This bill will re-affirm those fundamental rights for veterans that must be protected:
– The right to dignified housing
– The right to gainful employment
– The right to be protected from discrimination
– The right to be supported in community, inclusive of VFWs and American Legions
In addition, the legislation creating the Bill of Rights will formally commission a study to identify where resources are needed to best serve our veterans, as well as recommendations for 21st century investments – from new technology, to advancements in health care, and more. Once completed, this study’s findings will be presented to a public hearing of the Legislature’s veterans committee.
I ask you to please contact your legislator and ask them to support the “Veterans’ Bill of Rights – and I ask you to never forget our fallen heroes or our veteran heroes at home.
God Bless the United States of America.
Joshua A. Lafazan
Lafazan has represented the 18th District in the Nassau County Legislature since 2018.