Massachusetts House of Representatives Supports Bill to Expand Veterans’ Benefits

For immediate release: November 13, 2013

(BOSTON) – Representative Mark Cusack (D-Braintree) recently joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to unanimously pass the 2013 VALOR Act which builds on existing legislation to expand services military personnel, veterans and their families.

The legislation expands benefits, increases access to services, and strengthens the recognition and honor given to our service men and women.

One of the most important parts of this legislation is assisting students who are called to active duty by giving students who are unable to complete their coursework the option to complete the course at a later date or withdraw with a full refund of tuition. If the student chooses to withdraw, the academic record must reflect that the withdrawal was due to active military service.

“This legislation goes a long way to ensure our veterans receive the benefits and services that they have earned,” said Representative Cusack.  “I am happy that Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in providing our veterans and their families with the tools and services to help them while they are deployed and when they return home.”

This bill also requires the Division of Professional Licensure, the Department of Public Health and boards of registration to waive license and certification fees for service members and their spouses in areas where they have received training in the field.

Some other highlights of the bill include:

  • Establishes a post-deployment council to make recommendations and study mental health issues to support military members transitioning to civilian life after deployment;
  • Requires the Department of Public Health to issue guidance to acute hospitals and ambulance service providers to ensure the identification of veterans in emergency settings;
  • Extends the award qualifications for the Medal of Liberty and updates criteria to qualify for a Purple Heart, Gold Star and the Support Our Veterans license plate
  • Creates a home modification program for veterans to help individuals stay in their homes and function independently.

The original VALOR Act was passed by the Legislature in 2012 and created an option for cities and towns to opt-in to a program allowing veterans to volunteer services in exchange for a reduction of real property tax bills. This legislation builds on the VALOR Act and extends the volunteer veteran property tax credit to the spouse of a veteran who is deceased or disabled.

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