In an effort to improve the benefit claims process for New York’s veterans, a new state law will soon require directors of city and county veterans service agencies to become accredited as veterans’ service organization (VSO) representatives.
In New York State, approximately 40 percent of directors of local veterans service agencies are not accredited VSO representatives, according to sponsors of the bill who say this is problematic because only individuals with accreditation have access to pertinent data from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, D-Great Neck, and Sen. Jack M. Martins, R-Mineola, both co-sponsors of the bill, were joined this week by members of local veterans’
organizations in Albertson to announce the legislation.
"This law will ensure that veterans and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled to in a more efficient and timely manner," said Schimel, a member of the Assembly’s Veterans Affairs Committee.
The new law, which becomes effective Aug. 30, requires current veterans agency directors to become accredited within three years. Those VSO directors hired after the effective date have eighteen months to become certified.
“In order to better serve New York's veterans and their families and help them get the state and the federal benefits to which they are entitled, it makes sense for the directors of our VAs across the State to be accredited," said Martins. "This legislation will do just that and increase the number of knowledgeable, trusted, accredited agents who can serve our veterans."
From a mental health standpoint, the new law will help clear up the obstacles and sometimes confusing paperwork veterans face when trying to secure their benefits, according to John Javis, chairman of the Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island.
“It is especially important when a physically or emotionally wounded veteran is being discharged home and needs services and benefits quickly. This new law will help speed up that process for them,” said Chavis.