May 3, 2018
Improving Benefits and Services for Veterans, Active Military Members and Families
BOSTON – Senator Sal DiDomenico and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed The BRAVE Act – new legislation that will expand benefits and increase access to a range of services for veterans, active-duty military, and their families.
Understanding the sacrifice that military personnel and their families make not only while on active duty, but also after returning home, the Massachusetts Legislature has consistently provided a continuum of major veteran legislation to help with those who sacrifice the most for our freedoms.
“The Commonwealth has a strong tradition of supporting our veterans and their families, and I am proud to support this legislation that continues this legacy,” said Senator DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “With the passage of The BRAVE Act, my colleagues and I in the Senate have once again reaffirmed our commitment to the brave men and women who have served our country and their families by expanding benefits and increasing access to the comprehensive programs and services that they deserve.”
“This omnibus veterans legislation encompasses some of the very best ideas presented by my colleagues in the legislature and the veterans of the Commonwealth to assist veterans and their families with employment protections, tax exemptions, burial expenses, court programs, medical care, and also continues to recognize those who serve and who have served,” said Senator Mike Rush (D-West Roxbury), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.
” “We want to ensure that Massachusetts remains number one in the nation in providing for our veterans, men and women in uniform, and their families. This legislation goes a long way in accomplishing this goal.”
“The BRAVE Act exemplifies Massachusetts’ commitment to the men and women who serve our country,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “Veterans have dedicated their lives to service and it is our responsibility to ensure that they can continue to thrive back home. This legislation builds upon Massachusetts’ legacy of supporting veterans, and I want to thank Senator Rush for his service and his leadership on this bill.”
On the recognition front, the legislation designates the 5th day of April as Gold Star Wives Day and the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mothers and Families Day and directs cities and towns to designate reserved parking for veterans at all city and town halls.
The bill also grants paid military leave for those called to duty by the armed forces for up to 40 days for training and operation purposes.
To help ease the costs of housing, the legislation changes the requirement for veterans to receive property tax exemptions from residing in the Commonwealth for five years down to two years. It also increases the amount a veteran can earn on their property tax exemption for volunteering in their city or town.
The BRAVE Act increases the burial expense paid by the Commonwealth from $2,000 to $4,000 to ensure indigent veterans receive a dignified funeral. It also exempts any veterans who receive annuities for service to their country from income calculations when applying for state programs or services.
The bill also does the following:
· Addressing emergency medical transportation reimbursements;
· Revising Veteran Court Diversion programs;
· Updating the veteran bonus program at the State Treasurer’s Office, and;
· Provides several studies and analysis regarding higher education, incarcerated veterans, and National Guard recognition.
The BRAVE Act, which now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration, is the legislature’s latest effort to support veterans, military members and their families.