As a state senator, I have been afforded the great fortune to advance legislation to support the men and women who have served our country, protected our freedoms, and defended our way of life. Recently, a measure that will provide those who have suffered injuries in the line of duty a helping hand in the business world, received both senate and assembly approval.
New York is home to more than 900,000 veterans and 72 percent of them have served in combat. Approximately 88,000 New Yorkers served in Afghanistan or Iraq, there are nearly 30,000 active duty military personnel, as well as 30,000 National Guard and Reserve members. These men and women are active in driving our state’s economy, both as employers and employees, but improvements are needed.
Even though New York has the fourth highest number of veteran owned small businesses in the country, returning veterans lag in reintegrating into the economy. Veterans have risked their lives and, in many cases, have suffered physical and mental health impairments serving our nation. As they work determinedly to readjust to civilian life, it is imperative that the state assist them in reintegrating back into our economy.
Senate bill 6865 will create a six percent state contract set-aside for small businesses owned by veterans who have been disabled while serving in the military. The “Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Act,” will ensure that those who have given more than can reasonably be asked of themselves are better able to compete for millions of dollars in state contracts. The set-aside is very similar to the highly successful three percent preference that the federal government offers.
Every year, state government agencies spend billions of dollars on goods and services to keep the state running effectively and provide for the needs of the people of New York. Directing a portion of that spending to businesses owned and operated by service disabled veterans is a fitting way to honor their service. This measure will also help encourage budding entrepreneurs coming home from conflicts abroad to start new businesses that will lead New York’s economic revitalization.
This program will mean not only a job, but a career, and an opportunity for our returning disabled veterans and their families. This measure will also enhance New York’s private sector by employing our best and brightest – men and women who possess highly-technical and specific skills, along with extraordinary integrity and character.
The senate has passed this legislation a number of times in recent years. Finally, the assembly and governor have joined us in taking this positive step. Perhaps the passionate push from many service connected disabled veterans and business officials turned the tide.
Mathew B. Tully, founding partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC, joined in a senate press conference earlier this year touting the benefits of this legislation. Before launching his legal career, Mat served for three years in the U.S. Army as a field artillery officer. After suffering from military discrimination at the hands of his civilian employer, Mat received his juris doctorate from Brooklyn Law School. A lieutenant colonel in the New York Army National Guard, Mat has chosen to dedicate his legal career to protecting and preserving the rights of his fellow veterans and reservists.
“Service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses should not have to fight New York State to do business with New York State,” said Mathew B. Tully, Esq.
Upon passage of this legislation, Mat’s partner Greg T. Rinkey, Esq. said, “Opening the door to veterans will begin to chip away at the chronically high unemployment rate for New Yorkers who served, and at the same time encourage investment in a small business community that sorely needs it.”
The “Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Act” is a long overdue thank-you to our deserving military heroes. I look forward to the winning results this measure will produce.