To honor the sacrifice of New York City Veterans, Mayor Bill de Blasio created the Department of Veterans' Services (DVS) on April 8th, 2016, making DVS the first standalone City agency in the country dedicated to serving Veterans and their families.
Since that time, the agency has moved rapidly to connect, mobilize, and empower New York City's Veteran community in order to foster purpose-driven lives for New York City Service Members – past and present – in addition to their caregivers, survivors, and families.
DVS fulfills this mission by providing New York City's Veterans with essential services and programs focused on pivotal areas such as economic empowerment, housing security, benefits, health and wellness, and culture.
The agency has achieved several milestones since its inception, including:
- DVS has played a leadership role in reducing Veteran homelessness by nearly 90%, making New York City the largest city in the country to become certified for ending chronic Veteran homelessness.
- The agency's Housing and Support Services team has housed over 900 homeless Veterans and stood up an aftercare unit to help ensure that the Veterans whom DVS houses remain housed, avoiding a return to housing insecurity.
- In 2019, DVS launched Service2Service, a program that pairs Veterans with mentors who work for the City of New York so that Veteran mentees can learn about how to attain employment and succeed professionally within the city government.
- The DVS Final Honors program ensures that eligible unclaimed and homeless Veterans are given dignified burials at a national cemetery. Through this program, DVS coordinates an average of 85 burials per year.
- In partnership, DVS and NYCHA were chosen as the first in the nation municipal entities to manage a rental subsidy and case management program to house disconnected Veterans, the HUD-VASH Continuum.
- In 2020, accredited DVS staff members began helping NYC veterans and their families process Veterans Affairs (VA) claims.
- Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, DVS partnered with Thrive NYC to launch Mission: VetCheck, an initiative that allows volunteers from the veteran community to make supportive check-in calls to other New York City veterans. Volunteers provided their peers with vital information on essential public services, COVID-19 resources and testing locations, and online mental health support.
DVS will continue to strengthen its core services as well as find new ways to serve this dynamic population and ensure that Veterans – New York City's most civic-minded individuals – continue to serve as a major asset for the City.