New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that LGBTQ veterans who were denied honorable discharge because of their sexual orientation can now apply to have their state veterans benefits restored.
"Restoring state benefits to LGBTQ veterans who were denied the honorable discharge simply because of who they are is the right thing to do and an appropriate way to show our appreciation for their service to this country," Cuomo said in a statement Sunday.
Cuomo signed the Honor Restoration Act last November to provide benefits to veterans who received "less than honorable casualties" for things like traumatic brain injury, PSTD, military sexual trauma, or due to "Don't ask, don't tell."
"If you are an LGBTQ veteran who was discharged from the military because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you can now receive the veteran benefits that you earned by serving our country," tweeted state Senator Brad Hoylman, who sponsored the legislation.
Applies to New York State Division of Veterans Services benefits. It does not affect the official nature of the discharge in the discharge paperwork of an individual.
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"Countless service members were discharged from the military simply because of who they are," Cuomo said after signing the law. "Adding insult to injury, they were denied the services and benefits they obtained as members of our armed forces who fought to protect our country and defend our ideals. With this measure, we are correcting that error and sending a message to LGBTQ veterans that we have their backs, just as they did with ours. ”
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Veterans must complete the application for the state Honor Restoration Act and provide their official file of military personnel, along with a personal statement explaining why their service character was unfair. If applicable, they must also provide an award letter from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) verifying a service-related disability.
Last weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in New York City, according to the governor's office.