Veterans group grades lawmakers

When it comes to looking out for veterans, federal lawmakers in New York scored slightly better than those in other states, but have plenty of room for improvement, an advocacy group said Monday.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a political action committee, issued a report card of legislators’ votes on veterans issues, handing the New York delegation a C+.

“No one has really called them on this stuff,” said Paul Reickhoff, an Iraq war veteran who founded the group and serves as its executive director. “They all say ‘I’m patriotic’ or ‘I support the troops’ but no one has really looked into their votes.”

New York’s Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton fared well, scoring a A- and a B+ respectively, but just average grades went to local congressmen such as Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island), Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), who were given C+ grades, and Rep. Major Owens (D-Brooklyn) who was given a C.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Westchester) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D.-Long Island) were the only local politicians to get an A.

The report card looked at votes on body armor, death benefits, and expanding the military health care plan to include members of the National Guard and the Reserves. The group assigned lawmakers a grade for each time their votes matched what the group felt was in the best interest of veterans.

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