Mayor MIA on Veterans' Affairs

Even before the founding of our United States, New York has been a place where the wealthy elite were not inclined to support our troops.

In fact, the British and the Tories retained control of New York from 1776 to 1783 -- nearly the entire length of the Revolutionary War. New York City and Long Island served as the British military and political base of operations throughout the American Revolution largely due to a very large concentration of Loyalists.

Over the past eight years, Bloomberg's Mayor's Office of Veterans' Affairs (MOVA) has done little to nothing to assist hundreds of thousands of veterans in New York City. In fact, in total, nearly 2 million veterans and their family members have been affected by this loathsome neglect.

According to MOVA Commissioner Roger K. Newman's stated website message, it is their "...privilege to work on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans and service members that live in our City and ensure that the needs of New York's veteran and military community are met."

When asked for assistance by constituent veterans, the Mayor's Office of Veterans' Affairs and other local and state leaders repeatedly regurgitate the same by now feculent phrase.

Their typical reply is, "...the troubles plaguing New York City's veterans are Federal issues -- and thus, ones we have no say in."

This belies the very existence of MOVA, which was established to "work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs (NYSDVA), City Agencies, veteran's organizations and other stakeholders to offer services to veterans, their dependents and survivors; while encouraging innovative partnerships to ensure creative problem solving."

When hundreds of thousands of New York's veterans do not receive the benefits and entitlements they deserve, is there then no cost to New York State taxpayers? Consider this: the Manhattan VA is ranked as one of the two lowest-performing of the VA's 57 centers across the country!

To make up for the shortfall of federal benefits and support due to inefficiency and corruption, New York City and state taxpayers contribute billions of dollars to social programs, some of which undoubtedly go to fill the vacuum left by the VA's lack of effective services.

Worse yet, the New York VA Regional Office has been involved in "Shreddergate" and a backdating scandal, pertaining to disability claims, leaving 800,000 veterans of Eastern New York to deal with the second-slowest VA Regional Office in the nation.

What reason does Mayor Bloomberg have not to insist upon an independent Department of Justice investigation into these scandals?

Considering that this problem affects an important percentage of New York City residents, Mayor Bloomberg should immediately take this matter up with Gen. Shinseki and/or get federal lawmakers to rectify the situation.

Our courageous and honorable military veterans deserve better!

If Mayor Bloomberg has been unwilling and/or unable to go to bat for these heroes during his last two terms in office, then veterans deserve a better mayor.

Luis Carlos Montalván is a resident of Brooklyn and veteran of the Iraq War.