Greetings! Thank you for visiting the NYC Department of Veterans Services (DVS), formerly known as the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA). For all who have served or are currently serving as active duty, Reserves or National Guard, I am honored to serve as Commissioner of Veterans Services under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Looking back, there has been a remarkable convergence of leadership since 2014 - the Mayor, the Speaker, the Committee on Veterans, Team MOVA (now DVS), and the impassioned community of NYC's veteran advocates - whose timely achievements, characterized by strong collaboration, constructive partnership, substantive legislation and historic achievement, are briefly summarized below:
· Newly appointed Veteran Advisory Board, strategically selected to ensure a diverse range of service backgrounds, community engagement interests, and professional expertise
· First city to add Veteran Designator to the municipal ID card program (IDNYC), thereby facilitating enhanced access to veteran-specific services and benefits for veteran New Yorkers
· Commitment to invest in veteran mental health as an integral element of ThriveNYC, including program element support for increased outreach, 311 improvements to connect NYC veterans and family members to the Veteran Crisis Line as well as City resources and services; and holistic services across an integrated community health model of care
· Expanded employment opportunities for veterans and their families, placing over 2,500 veterans and their spouses in jobs through the City's Small Business Services Workforce1 centers
· Productive working relationship with the City Council, achieving multiple legislative initiatives voted into law, culminating in the bill signing of Local Law 113, authorizing the establishment of a separate agency, Department of Veterans Services, to better serve our veteran community
· Leadership and collaboration for special events drawing national attention (e.g. Fleet Week, Veterans Week / America's Parade)
· Move to newly renovated office space at 1 Centre Street in the historic David N. Dinkins Municipal building, named after the former Mayor, one of the City's most renowned veterans
· Initiation of a new City tradition during Veterans' Week, the Mayor's Flag Ceremony, followed by the posting all Service flags at the entrance of City Hall
· Unprecedented increase in budget and staffing capacity, a historic investment already yielding increased citywide outreach and impact
· Historic bill-signing ceremony on December 10, 2015, when Mayor de Blasio signed Local Law 113 to authorize the Department of Veterans' Services, the first new City agency dedicated to serving the city's veterans and their families; as of April 8, 2016, the new law is now in effect
· Federal validation of NYC benchmark success in effectively ending chronic veteran homelessness; under the Mayor's leadership, veteran homelessness overall has decreased by over 70% since January 2014
With the creation of the Department of Veterans Services, the City will now have the capacity to develop a sustainable long-term strategy grounded in City leadership, public-private partnerships, and community engagement. Executing this strategy will yield the robust program development, direct services, and the research, policy and advocacy work needed to leverage the strengths and support the needs of the burgeoning population of approximately 500,000 veterans and family members in New York City. There simply is no greater privilege.
Please know that we are in the process of onboarding our new team members and building capacity for City-wide outreach, services and engagement never before possible. As always, we appreciate your support and look forward to your continued feedback during this historic transition. You can connect with us in various ways, including our website, office phone (212-416-5250 or 3-1-1); and 311 Online. You can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
We look forward to hearing from you -- now, early and often.
Loree Sutton, MD
Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.)