Mineola, NY – Nassau County Executive Laura Curran yesterday signed into law legislation that will give veterans employed by the county credit toward retirement health care benefits for up to three years in the military. The Nassau County Legislature on March 25 unanimously by a vote of 19-0 passed the legislation that takes effect immediately upon signing.
“As retirement approaches for the many veterans employed by Nassau County, it’s time we give credit where credit is due,” said County Executive Curran. “It’s important that we let those who served our country know that we are thankful for their service. It’s even more important that we demonstrate our gratitude to them.”
“This is something that really needed to be done and I want to thank the legislators and the County Executive and all our veterans who work for Nassau County,” Ralph Esposito, director of the Nassau County Veterans Service Agency and a Vietnam veteran, said. “They made the supreme sacrifice. When we signed that letter to join or to be drafted, we didn’t know whether we were coming home, where we were going or what we were going to do. We came home and we got jobs. The people who work for the county really deserve this. This is a plus for all of us.”
More than 48,000 veterans reside in Nassau County, according to the United States Census Bureau, making it a region with a particularly large veteran population. The Nassau County rule applies to county employees based on active military duty as well as reservist service, which is calculated at a prorated basis.
Legislators Arnold Drucker and Debra Mulé joined the County Executive and veterans who watched the legislation go into effect in a victory for veterans employed by Nassau County.
“Anything we can do to support our veterans who put their life on the line for the country is a good thing,” Leg. Debra Mulé, 5th District said. “I’m proud to support this important legislation.”
“This is another example of how the Legislature and the Administration work together to support our veterans and make sure they get every benefit they are entitled to,” Leg. Arnold Drucker, 16th District said.
Veterans at the event talked about the signing as a sign of the county’s support for them. Veterans who sometimes interrupted their service to the county to serve in the military faced gaps in terms or years for which they did not get credit toward county health care retirement benefits.
“When we came home from Vietnam, we weren’t recognized,” Sal Martella, treasurer for the American Legion Riders Post 1033 in Elmont and a Vietnam veteran, said. “To get something like this means something. It feels good to have a County Executive who looks out for our needs and tries to help us all out.”
“These are like the years we missed on the job market,” said Laurence Mansfield, Veterans Counselor at Nassau County’s Veterans Service Agency. “This bill is a catch up.”
New York State allows veterans to buy up to three years of qualifying military service for credit toward their pension, while the new Nassau County regulations provide credit toward health care at no charge.
Nassau County already gives employees who are activated and meet certain requirements the benefit of getting their first 20 days of activation paid by the county in addition to military pay. They can then use accrued time with the county to receive additional pay while activated, if they choose.