Let’s honor our veterans by supporting them at home


In the tapestry of our nation’s history, veterans stand as the threads of bravery, courage and unity that weave together the fabric of our freedom. We expressed our gratitude for their sacrifices earlier this month, and it is crucial that we recognize the significance of supporting them right here at home.
Our veterans face adversity on foreign soil to safeguard the principles that define our democracy, and return from the front lines with stories of valor and resilience. It is our duty as a grateful nation to ensure that they are embraced with the support they deserve when they come home.
Legislation plays a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of veteran support. My sponsored bill in the Assembly, A.8106, addresses a critical aspect of post-service life by requiring that veterans be notified about the availability of services offered by federal, state and local veterans agencies. In the hustle of civilian life, veterans may not be aware of the myriad resources at their disposal. This bill would ensure they are informed, promoting a smooth transition and access to the support they need.
I also advocated for bill A.7607, which focuses on apprenticeship training, recognizing that the skills the members of our armed forces acquire during military service are invaluable. By investing in their professional growth and providing avenues for veterans to seamlessly integrate into the workforce, we not only honor their service, but also empower them to contribute to our society as civilians.
Additionally, bill A.3658 underscores the sanctity of veterans’ memorials, establishing legal recourse for the destruction of these symbols of sacrifice. Veterans’ memorials are more than structures; they are sacred spaces that hold the memories and stories of those who served. Protecting these monuments is not just a matter of legality, it is a commitment to preserving the legacy of our heroes for future generations.

Some of my favorite events of the year are those I host for our local veterans, such as an annual patriotic picnic in the summer, which welcomes veterans from the 19th Assembly District and their guests to enjoy complimentary food and fellowship.
Earlier this month, we celebrated the completion of the Veterans Portrait Project: Over the course of several weeks, eighth-grade students from the Notre Dame School in New Hyde Park interviewed veterans to gain a deeper understanding of history through their personal stories and to cultivate a sense of gratitude, respect and patriotism. Their completed biographies and portraits are on display in the Community Gallery at the Long Island Children’s Museum, in Garden City, for the entire month of November.
Supporting our veterans is greater than a moral obligation — it is an investment in strengthening the very foundation on which our freedom rests, as well as helping our local heroes navigate the challenges of returning home with the same valor and courage that defined their service abroad.

Ed Ra, who represents the 19th Assembly District, is the ranking Republican member of the Ways & Means Committee.