YORKTOWN, NY – Surrounded by a dozen local veterans at Yorktown’s Patriot Park, Supervisor candidate Matt Slater announced his plans to help streamline the benefits and services he believes local veterans have earned. Announcing Operation Thank You, along with Councilman Tom Diana, Councilman Ed Lachterman and Town Clerk Candidate Mary Capoccia, Slater said their plan would be implemented within his first 30 days in office.
“We have developed a plan that raises the bar for Yorktown’s veterans and will better serve our local vets and their families,” Slater said. “Our plan is to give them a stronger voice in our community while streamlining access to benefits and services.”
The plan includes establishing a Veterans Council and exploring the need for a Veterans Service Agency Office for Yorktown. Several municipalities in Westchester County, including Bedford and Cortlandt, help streamline services through municipal veterans councils or veterans service agency offices.
Yorktown can be a better resource for those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation and freedoms, Slater said. “Yorktown’s Veterans Council will provide assistance and connect their fellow vets to an array of services from VA assistance, to property tax exemptions to mental health services.”
Slater said he saw the struggles of a local veteran, Frank Garcia, who had to wait decades to be designated a disabled veteran as well as receiving the New York State Veterans’ Property Tax Exemption. With Slater’s help, Mr. Garcia was able to receive the exemption but his experience highlights the complicated systems local veterans have to endure to receive the benefits and services they deserve.
Yorktown Veteran Frank Garcia said, “I waited 40 years to be classified as a disabled veteran after being injured during training with the National Guard. After meeting Matt he was able to quickly track down new information that I was not aware of which entitled me to the property tax exemption from New York State. I appreciate his efforts.”
Working alongside State Senator Terrence Murphy who represented Yorktown for four years, Slater helped deliver and protect critical funding for the Joseph P. Dwyer Peer to Peer Program for both Putnam and Westchester Counties. The Dwyer Program offers mental health services to soldiers suffering from PTSD or recovering from a traumatic brain injury.
Town Clerk candidate Mary Capoccia applauded the plan saying, “Having a Veterans Council would be an important resource to assist our veterans and their families.”
Yorktown Councilman Ed Lachterman, who has spearheaded Yorktown’s Annual Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony, wants the council to be charged with developing a living history program to preserve the primary accounts of Yorktown’s local veterans. Calling it Operation Remember, Lachterman explained it would be geared toward the continued education of neighbors and students about the experiences of our local veterans.
“Through my work supporting places like the Country House, I have heard first hand accounts of D-Day invasions and merchant marine operations, simply amazing stories,” Lachterman said. “In addition to forming this council we will task them with completing Operation Remember, a living history program in partnership with local veterans, civic organizations and our public schools to capture and digitize the firsthand accounts of our local veterans to preserve the memories of their service to our nation.”
Yorktown is no stranger to veterans causes. Councilman Tom Diana helped lead the charge to make Yorktown a Purple Heart Town and designating parking spots in front of Town Hall for Purple Heart Recipients.
“Our freedom isn’t free and we have incredible men and women who have made our country what it is today,” Yorktown Councilman Tom Diana added. “My father was in World War II serving in the Battle of the Bulge. We owe a veterans in this town an extreme amount of thank yous and help when we can do so. The Veterans Council is just a mere token of the sacrifices that these men and women have made for us. To all of our veterans, and their families, thank you.
Eugene Lang, a Holocaust Survivor, Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart recipient Eugene Lang added, “We have signs up in both sides of town saying Yorktown is a Purple Heart Town and parking for Purple Heart recipients. I thank Councilmen Diana and Lachterman for their help getting this done.”
More than 2,600 local veterans in Yorktown currently receive a property tax exemption.