In the 2009 legislative session, the General Assembly took action on numerous issues that can be helpful to veterans, their families and active military personnel. These involve military honors, retirement, and benefits to veterans and family members.
A new law prohibits towns, cemetery associations, or ecclesiastical societies that care for cemeteries from enacting bylaws that restrict the placement of U. S. flags on veterans’ graves from the Saturday before Memorial Day until the Monday after July 4 in any year. (Public Act 09-5)
New legislation requires the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to work with the state Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Department, not just the Department of Children and Families, to provide transitional behavioral health services for members of any reserve component of the U. S. Armed Forces (and their dependents) called to active duty in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Public Act 09-70 permits an employee to take unpaid family and medical leave to care for an immediate family member or next of kin who is a current member of the U. S. Military, National Guard, or the reserves with a serious illness or injury received in the line of duty.
An act concerning consumer credit interest rates requires financial institutions to comply with the provision of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act, which limits the consumer credit interest rate that such institutions may charge armed services members and their dependents.
A new war service benefits law expands the pool of people eligible for veterans’ war service benefits by changing the start and end dates of Operation Earnest Will (escort of Kuwaiti oil tankers flying the U. S. flag in the Persian Gulf). The benefits include property tax exemptions; public college tuition waivers; and financial help from the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Fund.
Currently, UConn, the Connecticut State University system, and the regional community-technical colleges must waive tuition for veterans who meet certain criteria. Public Act 09-159 allows these institutions to recover federal educational assistance payments under the 2008 Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act by limiting the waiver for eligible veterans who apply for these benefits.
The Military Family Relief Fund makes immediate relatives of Connecticut-domiciled armed forces members, including Connecticut National Guard members, who are not on active duty, eligible to receive benefits from the Military Family Relief Fund. Under prior law, only immediate relatives of service members on active duty qualified.
A new law supportive of disabled veterans eliminates the requirement that a veteran under age 65 claiming the disabled veterans’ property tax exemption provide annual proof of his or her disability to the town assessor. The disabled property tax exemption is available to veterans with a disability rating of 10% or greater. Exemption amounts range from $ 1,500 to $ 3,000.
If you would like information on this or other state-related issues, please call my office at 1-800-842-1423 or e-mail Marilyn.Giuliano@housegop.ct.gov