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Poll: Respondents Favor Spending To Assist Veterans

A new poll shows upstate New Yorkers believe in higher quality care for veterans.

One positive impact of the recent VA scandal may be that Americans’ attitudes and understanding of the challenges returning veterans face have sharpened. Long wait times and dishonest record keeping at some VA sites led to the ouster of Secretary Eric Shinseki and has forced a reexamination of how the country should treat its booming Iraq and Afghanistan veteran population.

Siena pollster Don Levy:  "In a recent poll that we did on behalf of Gramercy Communications and the Arsenal Business & Technology Partnership, we found that despite the fact that only 39 percent of New Yorkers say that they have a close family member or personal friend who's been in the military since 9/11, they are very well prepared to comment on the job the government is doing to help returned veterans. And frankly, they don't feel as though the government's doing a very good job. 84 percent say that the government is doing no better than fair or poor in helping returned veterans have a healthy and productive life."

72 percent of respondents surveyed indicated they strongly support government-funded job training for veterans; a mere 2 percent were strongly opposed.

Pete Gannon is president of the Arsenal Business & Technology Partnership, home to the McNulty Center for Veteran Entreprenuerial Activity.   "We'll talk to veterans at any stage of business creation. If its something on a cocktail napkin, or they've been in business for months or years even and are having trouble dealing with those impediments small business owners and entrepreneurs encounter, we've gone ahead and assembled a network of industry experts that can advise, mentor, counsel and hopefully help them move on beyond those impediments and create a sustainable business.”

Asked if taxpayer dollars should go toward assisting veterans with starting a business — by offering tax credits or discounted financing — 49 percent answered they strongly support doing so and 36 percent would "somewhat" support it. Just 4 percent checked in as "strongly opposed."

Retired Colonel Tom Besch spent 26 years in military service. The vet now runs a solar business at the arsenal.     "That's important to me because the big transition of being in the military where you're focused on mission and men to being in a business where you have to make your business float.  There's a lot of rules and regulations and legalities that the military does not prepare one for. So the fact that New Yorkers are willing to help veterans start businesses and get over that learning curve, I think is very important, and I hope to see more of those resources made available to people like myself because it's quite a hill to climb."

Again, Siena’s Levy:   "The bottom line is that upstate New Yorkers feel we need to do more to help our veterans, and right now they say they'd support using taxpayer dollars to do that."

Assemblymember John T. McDonald III reacted  “The results of this poll reinforce what I have been hearing and witnessing in the 108th Assembly District and beyond – we need to do more for our returning veterans.  I have supported and sponsored legislation to be more inclusive of our veterans in the various opportunities extended to other disadvantaged populations.”

The Gramercy Communications/Arsenal Business & Technology Partnership poll was conducted June 1 – 5, 2014 as part of a Siena College Poll by telephone calls to 874 residents of the 51 counties of Upstate New York.  It has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points.  Data was statistically by age, and gender to ensure representativeness. Sampling was conducted via random digit dialing to landline and cell phones weighted to reflect known population patterns. The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in New York State.  SRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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