Assemblyman Jim Tedisco is spearheading a program that would give service-disabled veterans legislative internships, an initiative he says will be the first of its kind in the country.
Tedisco R–Glenville stood with fellow lawmakers, veterans and supporters in the Legislative Office Building Tuesday to announce a program called G.I.V.E Back NY that would enable disabled veterans to participate in the chamber’s annual legislative internship program as soon as 2015.
“Who better than our wounded warriors to see the inner workings of the republic and representative democracy they put their lives on the line for to the extent they now have to deal with a life-long disability,” Tedisco said.
The Assembly Internship program, which is currently open to college students attending a four-year college and graduate students, provides stipends to its participants. Undergraduates receive a $4,500 annual stipend while graduate students earn $11,500, according to Tedisco. Assembly Republicans are proposing the enrollees of G.I.V.E. Back NY receive a stipend of $11,500 for the session-long program. Tedisco is proposing setting aside a percentage of the internships for veterans that are normally given to college students.
Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor R-Fishkill, a Marine Corps veteran, detailed the difficulty many former combat soldiers have finding a job, saying there is no “civilian equivalent” for the jobs that soldiers perform on the front lines of battle.
“G.I.V.E. Back NY, will be a great way to take those who have actual military and fighting skills and the discipline and maturity that goes with that and transition them into the work room,” said Lalor.
Two U.S. Army veterans, Robert Domenici and Gregory Rinckey, expressed the need to provide veterans with a steady and reliable source of income. Domenici and Rinckey said in this difficult economy, many veterans find themselves unemployed for a long period of time upon returning from service and the internship would fill large employment gaps that sometimes develop in their resumes.
“Anything we can do to help veterans returning from these times in which we see more veterans returning… more veterans are unemployed today and I can tell you from my own service and my son’s service it is very difficult for a veteran to get back into the civilian economy,” said Domenici, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.
“Duty. Honor. Commitment to excellence. These are the hallmarks and virtues the military instills in those who serve,” Rinckey said. “We want people with these virtues working in the capitol, we need it and they need it too.”
The Assembly Republican Conference has signed and delivered a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Intern Committee Chair Deborah Glick and Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Chair Michael Benedetto requesting their support for G.I.V.E. Back NY. Tedisco hopes to launch a pilot program in 2015 and expand the program in future legislative sessions.
“Those who are sacrificing and willing to sacrifice everything and are plagued with those disabilities we think should have the opportunity to see how government works and sometimes to be honest and truthful, how it does not work,” said Tedisco.