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Monday, January 26, 2009

WATERTOWN, N.Y., Jan. 26, 2009 — State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine today applauded Gov. David A. Paterson's proposal to increase support for county veterans' service agencies and deploy mobile outreach vans to bring counseling and other services to veterans living in rural areas.

"Our veterans have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms and it's important to recognize that," Sen. Aubertine said. "Even in tough times we must do what we can to make sure they have access to state and federal programs. Our governor has shown a commitment to our veterans and I applaud him for his efforts."

Sen. Aubertine has served in the Assembly and Senate on committees relating to Veterans, including his service as ranking member of the Senate's Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs committee. He has worked closely with the Division of Veteran's Affairs and was pleased to see the 2009-10 Executive Budget proposal increases funding for the Veteran Counseling Services Program by close to $1.3 million.

"With so many of our armed services men and women serving on two, three and four deployments, more and more veterans need to know what services are available to them," Sen. Aubertine said. "By opening up additional funding, we can improve access to and build off the existing state and federal benefits they deserve."

The Executive Budget proposal includes the use of two handicap accessible mobile veterans counseling vans to be deployed in rural parts of the state, including the Adirondack region, increases in aid to county and city veterans' service agencies, and a formal Veterans' Family Outreach Program to streamline the delivery of benefits to veterans and their families. The proposed spending plan also restores a reduction made to the Blind Veterans' Annuity.

"I want to applaud the governor for these measures to take care of our veterans," Sen. Aubertine said. "With Fort Drum playing a major role in our country's military, many of our veterans from across our country find themselves staying here and throughout upstate after they complete their service. We owe it to them to thank them for their service."