In April, New York State Sen. Pete Harckham initiated quarterly meetings of his Veterans Advisory Council (VAC). Sen. Harckham represents Yorktown along with other areas in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties. At Supervisor Ilan Gilbert’s request, the second meeting was held here in Yorktown at the VFW on July 17.

The purpose of the VAC is to work with the veterans community to identify concerns and to help veterans and their families resolve these concerns. The VAC will work in concert with existing veterans organizations such as the NYS Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Program, Montrose Veterans Hospital, and various County Veteran Services Agencies, and others.

Sen. Harckham, at the initial meeting, stated, “The men and women who have served in our armed forces have made sacrifices that most of us will never be able to fully comprehend. I want to ensure that veterans and their families in the 40th Senate District and beyond get the best medical care and support services available.”

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This new program gives veterans, their families and organizations that support our veterans, another voice and another avenue for providing help through coordination and legislation.

The mission statement developed for the VAC is to support the veterans residing in our district by identifying veterans and their families in need of service and by providing information and access to the services for which they are eligible under the law.

Supervisor Gilbert has been in discussions with Sen. Harckham on needs of veterans and how to best meet those needs and he fully supports the VAC.

As a concerned and active veteran of Yorktown, I have devoted many hours to working with veterans around Westchester County. I have served on the VAC for the Veterans Administration as well as the WCVAB (Westchester County Veterans Advisory Board). In my work with veterans and veteran groups I have discovered, as has Supervisor Gilbert, Sen. Harckham and County Executive George Latimer, that when we work together to benefit veterans around the country that we can succeed in improving their lives.

Supervisor Gilbert will help the VAC ensure the timely and accurate benefit delivery for all Yorktown veterans seeking help from the federal, state and local branches of government. He will also ensure our veterans receive the dignity, compassion, respect and privacy they deserve.

This may include, but not be limited to, the fight against homelessness and joblessness within the veteran community, researching the correct answer and providing results as quickly as possible.

This Veterans Advisory Council is something that should have existed in the district and I’m delighted that Sen. Harckham saw the need and initiated the program. Yorktown and the rest of the district will be well served by the VAC.

Supervisor Gilbert’s father was in the military along with other family members and friends, and he fully understands the importance of serving those who have so gallantly served.