State Sen. Patty Ritchie, appointed to the Council of State Governments “Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs,” met with members this week to find ways to improve services and outreach to veterans and active members of the military.
Ritchie, a Republican from Heuvelton, covers Ogdensburg and the St. Lawrence County towns of Ogdensburg, Canton, Gouverneur, Oswegatchie, Waddington, Lisbon, Madrid, Louisville, DeKalb, DePeyster, Hermon, Edwards, Fowler, Rossie, Macomb, Morristown, and Hammond, plus Oswego and Jefferson counties, including Fort Drum.
The discussion was the first for the group, which is tasked with identifying key issues facing veterans and includes legislators and state officials from across the country.
Ritchie’s office reports that topics discussed included:
· Improving education opportunities for veterans, including assisting younger men and women with their transition from deployment to college as well as the advantages of distance learning for veterans;
· Working to break down the stigma surrounding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
· The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children; and
· Decreasing poverty rates and improving benefits for members of the the National Guard and Army Reserves.
The group’s findings will be utilized to help draft legislation aimed at aiding veterans in New York and other states. The task force is expected to release its report later this summer.
“Being a part of the Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs has afforded me the opportunity to learn from people across the country who are up against the same challenges our region faces in an effort to create more opportunities and improve services for the men and women who have fought for our freedom,” Ritchie said in a news release.
The group’s findings will be used to help draft legislative proposals to aid veterans in New York and other states.
The Council on State Governments, based in Lexington, Ky. and with regional offices, is a non-partisan group comprising members of state legislatures, as well as representatives of the executive and judicial branches of all 50 states, formed to exchange ideas and help form effective policies.