On the eve of the national Veterans Day holiday observance last Monday, November 11, 2013, Senator Kevin Parker (D-21),
announced he is introducing the NY CARES Act (New York College Aid for Returning Empire State Service members).
And that was a nice drum roll to Damon Kinebrew, the treasurer for the distinguished Association of Minority Enterprises of New York, Inc. Kinebrew is a Vietnam veteran who lives in Bedford Stuyvesant and feels Parker is somewhat of a hero. “His has instituted some very good programs for veterans, and this one is needed!”
Parker’s bill requires New York’s public and private universities to accept military service for some college credit. Joining the five-term legislator were members of Black Veterans for Social Justice; Ed Daniels, Chair, Incarcerated Veterans’ Consortium; Donald Day, Vice Commander, Disabled American Veterans; Carrie Mobley, retired United States Army Sergeant First Class; Brett Scudder, President, NY Humanitarian & Community Advocates Network, and United States Army Sergeants Jeffrey Parker and Lesly Fontaine, Jr., of the 42nd Infantry Division, Staten Island.
“America is in the process of experiencing the largest number of returning service members since World War II, many of whom will seek to either re-establish or embark on their civilian careers. By providing an enhanced path into college, this bill recognizes their specialized training and experience, and months and years on foreign soil as equivalent to college credits,” Senator Parker said.
“I am proud to sponsor this important piece of legislation awarding college credit to veterans for the intensive, hands on training they received during their service with the United States military. This bill will afford all soldiers the opportunity to choose their future path by continuing their education in a field they most desire. Our men and women of the military deserve nothing less than our respect and support as they ease back into civilian life,” said Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, D-Brooklyn and Chair of the Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task Force and the Committee on Cities, the bill’s Assembly sponsor.
“The NY CARES Act will be an important part of helping returning veterans to restart or jump-start their careers after serving overseas,” said Mr. Job Mashariki, Founder of Black Veterans for Social Justice. “Veterans should be able to leverage their specialized skills into college credit, and this bill will make that happen.”
The post 9/11 G.I. Bill offers returning veterans education benefits including, but not limited to, up to 100% tuition and fee coverage, and the ability to transfer benefits to family members. It does not however convert specialized training and experience into college credits. Senator Parker’s NY CARES bill would take the highly technical training modern service members are given, and create a method for their knowledge, experience and course work to qualify for credit when applying to or resuming college. The bill would also create a “bridge” program and a “one-stop” website to make applying military training/experience to college credit and majors easier.
“This bill is important,” Sgt. Lesly Fontaine, who was present at Sen. Parker’s press conference, told Our Time Press. Sgt. Fontaine is going on his 11th year as a US Army National Guard with three years active duty. He plans on staying. He is a single father of two sons, ages 8 and 6. “It’s pretty rough but my family helps me out.”
“Hopefully the Bill will pass as it makes it so much easier for veterans. It will increase the number of servicemen and women going to college by giving them credit for their skills. And these service people are real people. People we know.
“It gives them another opportunity to either grab some rungs on the ladder of success or return to the rung they were on previously before they left to serve our country.”
“Although my colleague Assemblyman Ortiz is chairing the Somos el Futuro conference in Puerto Rico and unfortunately not able to be here, I know he joins me in believing this simple truth: We have a responsibility to give back to our troops and veterans, in the same selfless manner they have given to us to maintain our freedom,” Senator Parker concluded.