Congressman Sean Maloney

Representing the 18th District of New York

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Maloney Introduces Know Your Vets Act to Help Veterans Safely Transition Back to Civilian Life

Nov 17, 2017
Press Release
Legislation Developed Alongside Veterans Advisory Board

New Windsor, NY —Today, after working alongside Stephanie Keegan of Somers, NY who lost her son Daniel shortly after his transition out of the military and Nelson Rivera, the Dutchess County Veterans Agency Director, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced the introduction of the Know Your Vets Act, which will help veterans safely transition out of military service. The bill would give veterans the option of having their final certificate of discharge paperwork, also known as a DD-214 form, sent to a county Veterans Service Officer (VSO) based on wherever they’re moving. This notification will allow VSOs to proactively reach out to offer assistance and ensure the new veteran has a smooth transition back to civilian life.

“When Nelson told me that county veterans organizations aren’t notified when a new vet moves here, I just couldn't believe it,” said Rep. Maloney. “Some folks who serve have a hard time transitioning back to the civilian world, and this bill will help them bridge that gap by getting our veterans services officers the info they need to lend a hand.”

"Today I was proud to join Congressman Maloney as he announced legislation that will help give our county veterans agencies the resources they need to directly help our service men and women as they return home,” said New York State Senator William Larkin. “Through cooperation and team work and by reaching across party lines we will deliver positive results for our veterans."

“We have to do everything we can to help out our veterans successfully transition back to civilian life and connecting them with our county veterans organizations is a common sense way to achieve that,” said New York State Assemblyman James Skoufis. “I want to thank Rep. Maloney and all the veterans in Orange County on his advisory board for working together to get this bill written – I’m proud to support it.”

“I am so proud of Congressman Maloney and the work he has done to create the Know Your Vets Act. I have no doubt that this legislation will save lives,” said Stephanie Keegan of Somers, the mother of veteran Daniel Keegan.

“This is a long time issue we have had to reach out to our veterans, if the “Know Your Vets Act” had been in place we would have never seen on average 22 veterans a day committing suicide,” said Nelson Rivera, Director of the Dutchess County Veterans Service Agency. “I THANK Congressman Maloney for listening and taking the appropriate action to best serve our servicemembers and families transiting back into civilian life.”

"This proposed legislation will make a huge difference to those of us in the positions to help veterans,” said Christian Farrell, Director of the Orange County Veterans Service Agency. “One of the biggest challenges we face is knowing where our veterans live - in Orange County that's daunting task with 22,000 vets.”

The transition from the military can be a difficult time for veterans. Some veterans struggle with finding a good job, adjusting to family life, or just feeling at home in the civilian world. Some even battle mental health issues or substance abuse. VSOs are available to assist these new veterans, but the VSOs have no way of knowing that a recently discharged veteran has returned home or moved to their community. Instead, those VSOs must wait for a veteran to contact them, which can be a serious barrier to recently discharged veterans getting the help they need.

The Know Your Vets Act would resolve this issue by giving veterans the option of having the Department of Defense send their Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty Form, also known as a DD-214 form, to the county VSO in the county to which they’re moving. This will allow VSOs to proactively reach out and offer their assistance with the transition including accessing services and connecting with the veterans community in the county. The opt-in approach would protect the privacy of veterans who do not wish to have their information forwarded on to the relevant VSO.

Rep. Maloney’s Veterans Advisory Board was instrumental in the creation of this legislation. Nelson Rivera, the Director of the Dutchess County Veterans Service Agency and a member of the Board raised his concerns about the lack of notification when veterans moved into the county. Rep. Maloney worked alongside Rivera and Stephanie Keegan, the mother of Daniel Keegan who died shortly after he transitioned out of the military. Daniel’s mother, Stephanie, believes that the tragedy could have been avoided if Daniel had help navigating the process and connecting with the local community from a local official, like a VSO.