Distinguished veterans like Tony Specchio of Watkins Glen, my 2014 inductee into the Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame, are true American heroes who have earned and deserve our admiration and respect.

Throughout my Senate service, I’ve stood behind, strongly supported and co-sponsored numerous legislative efforts to help honor, in a variety of ways, the sacrifice and service of our veterans.

One measure I was particularly proud to sponsor recently seeks to encourage businesses and industries in New York State to hire returning veterans. One true highlight of the 2016-17 New York State budget extends the “Hire-a-Vet” tax credit that I helped sponsor and fought to create in 2013.  It’s an investment in the future of returning veterans. It’s a tough economy all around, but the impact has been especially hard on veterans returning home during this recession to a weak private-sector economy.

Returning servicemen and servicewomen have had a hard time finding work and that’s particularly true for wounded veterans. We believe this tax credit is a worthwhile way to recognize their service and we hope it will help encourage economic opportunities and jobs for returning military men and women who have so much to offer.

Federal Bureau of Labor statistics have shown that unemployment reached a staggering 20 percent for veterans under the age of 30 who have recently returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, statistics show that a significant number of recently returned veterans report service-connected disabilities.

Under New York State’s Hire-a-Vet tax break, businesses became eligible for the tax break after employing a post-9/11 veteran for one year, beginning in 2014. The credit equals up to 10% of a veteran’s salary – 15% of disabled veteran’s salary – with the credit capped at $5,000 for a non-disabled vet and $15,000 for a disabled vet.


Senator O’Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano sponsored legislation designating the “Christopher J. Scott Memorial Highway” in tribute to one of our local fallen heroes.

I’ve also been privileged to sponsor legislation memorializing the lives and courageous service of some of the young soldiers we’ve lost from here at home, including the designation of the “Sergeant Devin Snyder Memorial Highway” in Cohocton, Steuben County, and the “Christopher J. Scott Memorial Highway” between the town of Reading (Schuyler County) and the village of Dundee (Yates County).

I’ve also worked to secure assistance for returning veterans whose lives — and the lives of their families — are being devastated by Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).


We welcome the opportunities we have throughout the year to express gratitude and respect to our veterans for their past service and for the enduring contributions they continue to make to our communities including the New York State Veterans’ Hall of Fame.