Mayor Gives Vets a Whole Lotta Not Much
Here's the press release from the Mayor's press conference today at the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence. While my initial reaction is to applaud these initiatives, I note that some of these "new" initiatives were discussed as far back as last year's City Council Veterans Committee hearing on homelessness, in which there was no DHS rep. present and MOVA didn't stay to listen to testimony. In fact, one of the iniatives was something I have been saying for over the past 3 years! While 100 homeless veterans will be given housing in 100 days (1 a day) I also wonder what the city plans to do with the other 617 homeless veterans, or is it 314? What about the female homeless vets?
Second, from speaking to people who were present, there were no elected officials or veteran groups present and I still find myself wondering why there was such secrecy surrounding this Press Conference. In looking at the task force members, while I do see some names that are active in the veteran community and on homelessness issue, it is more telling of the names and groups that are not there.
I applaud Black Vets, New Era and Samaritan Village for being on this task force, but I personally think that they were put in by DHS (at the last minute) because those were the only groups DHS knows about. Take a look at that list and take those 3 groups out and what kind of Task-Force do you have? And I still question why Common Ground was put in and yet Friends of Borden Avenue Veterans were not.
It will also be interesting to see what this joint City-VA Task Force will come up within the next 100 days and I would like to see the City Counci's Veterans Committee have a follow-up hearing with not only the DHS Commissioner but with these taks force members to gather their thoughts and views, as they have not been to any of the Veterans Committee hearings.
The sad truth is that to many vets, this was nothing more than a political event. The Mayor is so busy running his mouth that he is supportive of the veterans community but the truth is that he (and his office) truly do not know who is actually active and fighting in the veterans community and those that are known (such as myself) are disliked because we chose to speak out when veterans are used as a political backdrop or when something is BS.
We will have to keep an eye out on where this issue and this task-force goes but it is early and this could be the start of some positive movement towards helping our homeless veterans. I look forward to helping any of these members if they so ask... Joe Bello, NYC Veterans Advocate
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