Legislators seek first-in-the-nation pilot initiative to enable service-disabled
veterans to participate in annual legislative internship program
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville), Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) and Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I-Fishkill) today called for the New York State Assembly to launch the G.I.V.E. BackNY program (Giving Internships for disabled Veterans not fully Employed) to enable disabled veterans to participate in the chamber’s annual legislative internship program.
Tedisco, Hawley, Lalor and their colleagues propose setting aside a percentage of the current Assembly Session Internship program positions for service-disabled veterans to apply to be part of this first-in-the-nation pilot initiative.
This year, there are 120 interns in the Assembly Internship program, which is down from 180 interns in 2013. Currently, the Assembly Internship program is open to students matriculated in a four-year college. Undergraduates receive a $4,500 annual stipend ($6,500 for CUNY students) and graduate students earn $11,500. It is budgeted at $929,149 this fiscal year. Tedisco, Hawley and Lalor propose G.I.V.E. Back NY enrollees receive a stipend of $11,500 for the semester-long program. There will be no additional cost to taxpayers to implement G.I.V.E. BackNY.
“Let’s not just talk the talk, let’s walk the walk and G.I.V.E. Back to our disabled veterans by truly thanking them for everything we hold dear as Americans and as New Yorkers by offering them a birds eye view of the government they sacrificed their blood, sweat and tears and nearly their own lives to protect. Who better than our wounded warriors to see the inner workings of the republic and representative democracy they put their lives on the line for to the extent they now have to deal with a life-long disability,” said Tedisco.
“As our disabled veterans learn about state government, my colleagues and I and our college interns will learn from them about honor, duty, courage, and perseverance against the enemies of freedom and the principles that make America great. This pilot initiative also will give our disabled veterans significant experience to put on their resumes for future long-term employment,” said Tedisco.
“It’s tough enough to make your way in this economy and it can be even tougher for our disabled veterans who have given so much to our state and nation. The G.I.V.E. BackNY program is a very small token of our appreciation for all that our disabled veterans have done for us,” said Hawley, an Army veteran and Ranking Minority Member on the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“We need to be sure all of our veterans, especially our disabled service men and women, can find good-paying private sector jobs, are able to afford a home to live in, receive quality healthcare and have access to the supportive services they need. G.I.V.E. BackNY sends the message that the New York State Assembly truly values the service of our state’s veterans in deeds as well as words,” said Hawley.
“I'm proud to join Assemblyman Tedisco and Assemblyman Hawley in this effort to give back to the veterans who have selflessly sacrificed to defend our country. As an Iraq veteran, I'm grateful for the way our fellow Americans have embraced returning vets. We are showing that America is committed to the men and women who fought for us. That support means a lot to our servicemen and women whether they are serving overseas right now or coming home,” said Lalor, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs committee.
“Duty. Honor. Commitment to excellence. These are the virtues the military instills in those who serve. We want people with these virtues working in the Capitol. We need it, and they do, too,” said Tully Rinckey PLLC Managing Partner Greg T. Rinckey. “As a veteran myself, I commend Assemblyman Tedisco for his leadership and commitment to the service-disabled veteran community,” said Mr. Rinckey, a former Army captain who served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for six years prior to forming a law firm in Albany with Founding Partner Mathew B. Tully, a lieutenant colonel in the New York Army National Guard. Their Tully Rinckey PLLC is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB). Tully Rinckey PLLC’s military law team features 11 attorneys – nine of whom have served in the Armed Forces. Eight of them have served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. In upstate New York, the firm has offices in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo. In early 2012, Mr. Tully was deployed to Afghanistan, and his service there afforded him the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. It was his third overseas deployment since establishing the firm in Albany in 2004.
“In a time when our veterans are facing hard economic times. This program can help give a leg up to those how have given so much for all,” said Robert L. Domenici, a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army and a disabled veteran who is president of SRI, Strategic Response Initiatives, LLC, a certified disabled-veteran-owned small business and a national expert on homeland security.
The entire Assembly Republican Conference has signed a letter (see attached) to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Intern Committee Chair Deborah Glick and Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Chair Michael Benedetto requesting their support for G.I.V.E. BackNY. It’s hoped that service-disabled veterans could begin to apply for the program this summer and fall to enroll in time for the January 2014 legislative session.