Last week our country marked Veterans Day with ceremonies and memorials honoring those who served in our armed forces. I attended several community events to pay tribute to our brave men and women in uniform and was impressed with the outpouring of support from residents. There were several parades and ceremonies to say thank you and to recognize the true meaning of the day.
While expressing gratitude is a nice gesture and should be done year round, ensuring that veterans are receiving the highest quality of support is the best way we can show our appreciation. Veteran’s services are critical in making a difference in these heroes’ lives. I believe Erie County is improving its Veterans Services Department to better serve our area’s large veteran community. These improvements include partnering with other agencies like the One-Stop Center and local VA Hospital, to provide a full range of services to local veterans of every generation.
While many avenues exist, if you, or anyone you know, feel that help isn’t being provided, please contact my office at 858-8922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to assist you. I also post information about events and services on my Facebook page to help spread the word. Please CLICK HERE to access my Facebook page.
One such event recently announced was “Operation Entrepreneur,” which is a workshop for veterans who are interested in operating their own business. This workshop was presented by the Veterans One-Stop Center, the Small Business Development Center and U.S Small Business Administration. Participants were invited to learn about building a successful business. In conjunction, the U.S Small Business Administration recently announced new measures to help veterans attain small business loans by setting the borrower upfront fee to zero for all veteran loans authorized under the SBA Express program, up to $350,000. This initiative will start on Jan. 1 and continue through the end of the fiscal year. Veterans can learn more at www.sba.gov.
Another great opportunity for veterans and their families are scholarships, awards, and other benefits available through the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. Money is available for undergraduate tuition for soldiers, as well as for a program to help children, spouses and dependents of servicemen or women who were killed or seriously injured in combat. Veterans or their families can read more about New York State Higher Education Services Corporation awards and scholarships by visiting www.hesc.ny.gov.
These services, and others, are designed to assist those who sacrificed to serve our country. Our lives would not be what they are today were it not for our veterans. Providing them the tools to succeed is the least we can do to show our appreciation.
I want to close with an important reminder for all homeowners; if you are eligible for the Basic STAR exemption you must re-register your information with New York State before Dec. 31. Basic STAR is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the resident owners’ and their spouses’ income is less than $500,000. To re-register, visit www.tax.ny.gov and find the button labeled, “Register for STAR.” Taxpayers also can register by calling (518) 457-2036.