Assemblyman Steve Stern Announces Passage of Legislative Initiatives Supporting our Long Island Veterans

Critically Important Package of Legislation Provides Economic Opportunity and Fraud Protection for our Hometown Heroes

Hauppauge, NY – New York State Assemblyman Steve Stern and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone joined with elected leaders and local veterans to announce the passage of a package of legislation authored by Assemblyman Stern to protect our veterans from fraud and in support of veteran business owners on Long Island and throughout New York State.The groundbreaking bi-partisan legislative initiatives were unanimously approved by the State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul. 

“As a member of the New York State Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, it is my privilege to work with and for the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our great nation and for their families,” said New York State Assemblyman Steve Stern.“That’s why I was so proud to sponsor and pass three critically important pieces of legislation that provide both economic opportunity and vital financial protection for our hometown heroes.”

“Suffolk County has the highest population of veterans in New York State and we owe it to each of these brave men and women to give them the recognition and support that they deserve when they return home,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “They put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms so it’s only right we repay that debt in any way we can. I would like to thank Assemblyman Stern for his continued support to help assist our local veterans.”

“As Chair of the Assembly’s Veterans Affairs Committee, I am committed to enacting strong and effective policies and programs to support the brave men and women who have given so much to our nation,” said New York State Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre. “Thanks to the leadership of my colleague Assemblyman Steve Stern and with the enactment of this legislation, our state will be able to better serve our veterans by enhancing opportunities in homebuying, employment and small business financing, and these new resources will have a positive, tangible impact on those who have served. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues at the federal, state and local level to ensure that our veterans here on Long Island and throughout New York State receive the resources they need and deserve.”

The first piece of the legislative package (Chapter 698) protects prospective homebuyers, who are veterans using a VA loan, from fraud by ensuring access to educational services.Specifically, the legislation requires that the New York State Department of Veterans’ Services provide loan counseling and assistance so that applicants are fully aware of the terms and conditions of the loan prior to signing off on their financing agreements.

“Far too many veterans are targeted by unscrupulous mortgage brokers and loan companies when they apply for VA loans during the homebuying process,” said Assemblyman Stern. “It is absolutely unacceptable that servicemembers are being subjected to fraud and abuse by bad actors looking to make a quick buck.This legislation will protect our veterans’ financial interests and ensure that they obtain financing that is fair, honest and tailored to their individual needs.”

“If there is any segment of our population that deserves to own their own home, it would be those that have sacrificed themselves for the freedom and benefit of others,” said Michael Aharoni, Executive Director of Home at Last, a nonprofit organization that assists veterans and active military families with their VA home loan benefits. “It is our moral obligation to make sure our veterans are properly educated on their hard-earned housing benefits and protected from financial scams.”

“As a military veteran, I have been a victim of predatory lending due to being uneducated on the programs available to me,” said Robert Forloine, a veteran assisted by Home at Last. “Thanks to Home at Last and their continuing efforts in educating veterans on the home buying process and programs available, I am proud and confident we will be able to ensure future veterans are not taken advantage of. Home at Last and this legislation ensure our veteran community is properly taken care of from start to finish in the home buying process and receives the services they deserve for fighting for our country.”

The second piece of the legislative package (Chapter 587) provides opportunity for certified Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business Enterprises to obtain reduced rate financing to expand their operations.Specifically, the legislation authorizes these business owners to participate in the Excelsior Linked Deposit Program, which has successfully helped businesses in New York obtain reduced rate financing for investments.By adding Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business Enterprises as businesses eligible for the reduced interest rates offered by participating lenders, this bill significantly lowers the costs for these enterprises to expand and grow and gives them better chances to obtain government contracts.

“Veterans, who have already given so much for our nation and our communities, should not face unreasonable challenges when they return home,” said Tom Ronayne, Director, Suffolk County Office of Veterans' Services. “Entrepreneurship and business ownership are areas where veterans tend to excel and with the leadership of Assemblyman Stern and County Executive Bellone, today's announcement will ensure that veterans encounter fewer barriers to funding and accessing necessary capital to drive these businesses.”

“Suffolk County is home to the largest veterans' population in New York State and has one of the highest veteran populations of any county in the entire country,” said Suffolk County Legislature Minority Leader Jason Richberg. “We need to be doing all that we can to look out for our veterans and provide them the support they desperately need. It's the least we can do to show our thanks. Thank you to County Executive Bellone and our representatives in the State Assembly, Steve Stern and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Kimberly Jean-Pierre for their work on this incredibly important initiative.”

“Assemblyman Steve Stern's advocacy and commitment to our veterans, from his time as a Suffolk County Legislator to today in the New York State Assembly, continues with these three critically important pieces of legislation,” said Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly. “As the son of a World War II veteran, I am proud to stand side-by-side with him as he continues to lead the charge in providing support, through legislation and funding, to our American heroes.”

The third and final piece of the legislative package (Chapter 607) establishes the New York State Task Force on Veteran Employment Opportunities, which will be charged with holding annual public hearings and making recommendations to the State Legislature regarding ways that New York can assist veterans in finding and maintaining meaningful employment opportunities. The task force will be comprised of stake holders within state government, the private sector and institutions of higher education.

“This legislation will help veterans find and maintain good-paying jobs,” said Assemblyman Stern.“When a soldier goes off to protect our country, it is unacceptable that he or she should have difficulty obtaining meaningful employment when they come home.”

“Assemblyman Steve Stern has been a longtime friend of veterans on both on Long Island and throughout the state,” said United States Air Force Veteran and Task Force member Alan Berkowitz.“When Steve first came to me asking me to sit on the Task Force, I was both honored and excited for the opportunity to provide ideas and propose legislation, which would help both employers and veterans seeking employment.Veterans are dedicated, highly skilled, hard-working, and team players. Every employer on Long Island would benefit greatly by hiring a veteran. As a veteran, I’d like to thank Assemblyman Stern and his colleagues for creating the Veterans Employment Task Force and giving those that serve this country opportunities that they deserve.”

“As Chairman of the Suffolk County Veterans Committee, I fully support any measures that go towards aiding and assisting our great veterans of Suffolk County,” said Legislator Nick Caracappa. “As many are aware, Suffolk County holds the largest contingency of Veterans of any of New York’s 62 Counties. We must remain committed to providing vital services to our veterans who have served this Great Nation whether many years ago or currently transitioning from active duty to civilian life. Providing opportunities through initiatives such as these proposed by Assemblyman Stern will go even further in showing Suffolk County’s continued support and appreciation to all within our Veteran Communities.”

“As we begin Military Appreciation Month, it is imperative that we don’t just celebrate our heroes and their families during certain days on the calendar, but every day,” said Assemblyman Stern.“I thank Governor Hochul for signing these important bills into law and I remain committed to ensuring that our veterans receive the recognition, support and services that they deserve.”