NYS Legislative Agenda: Financial Support for Legal Services for Veterans Seeking Benefits

Financial Support for Legal Services for Veterans Seeking Benefits

Veterans in New York receive benefits to which they are legally entitled from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at a significantly lower rate than do those in states with similar veteran populations. New York’s statewide veteran population is the fifth largest in the country (at approximately 800,000), but New York lags far behind other states in benefits received from the VA.  This presents a significant hardship to the state’s veterans, and burdens the state with additional costs when it must step in to make up the shortfall. To help rectify this situation, New York needs qualified lawyers and advocates to assist its veterans in acquiring the federal benefits they deserve. At this time, however, despite the efforts of existing veterans’ counsel, the demand for legal help for New York veterans far exceeds the supply. As a community of lawyers, we urge the state to take action to rectify this gap in legal services, help their veterans receive the services and benefits they need, and shift the source of these benefits back to the federal government where they belong.  There are myriad approaches that should be explored in order to address this issue; we encourage the Governor and Legislature to work with the related state agencies and to dedicate the time and resources necessary to finding a solution.