Sen. Ritchie picked for national veterans’ panel
Monday, July 7, 2014 - 6:01 am

State Sen. Patty Ritchie has been picked to be part of a national group looking at ways to improve services and outreach to veterans and active members of America’s military.

The Council of State Governments Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs includes legislators and elected state leaders from across the country. The panel is charged with identifying key veterans’ issues and best practices that are in use in various states. The group’s findings will be used to help draft legislative proposals to aid veterans in New York and other states.

Ritchie notes that veterans are a natural priority for her, with Fort Drum and its 10th Mountain Division, plus 3,000 military retirees from all branches, in her district.

“Bringing together ideas and people from across the country who are similarly committed to our veterans and military will help ensure that we are doing all we can to recognize and support those who have served,” Senator Ritchie said.

As a New York senator, Ritchie has:

· sponsored a new law to help disabled veterans find employment by requiring state agencies to seek out veteran-owned businesses for government contracts

· sponsored New York’s new “Hire-a-Vet” tax credit that rewards employers with tax credits when they employ recently returning veterans

· for three years, has secured special budget funding for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for returning North Country soldiers and veterans.

“These are some of the issues and ideas I will be bringing to the table, and I’m eager to hear those of other legislators and state representatives that we can put to work to help our soldiers at Fort Drum, and everyone who has served,” Ritchie said.

The task force is supposed to make its initial report later this summer.

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.