Governor Tom Wolf and Major General Mark Schindler, adjutant general of Pennsylvania and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), today called on the General Assembly to review, update and adopt a package laws to improve the lives of some 800,000 Commonwealth veterans.
“Pennsylvania veterans have served our nation and our communities with honor, and we owe it to all of them to provide programs and services that will improve their quality of life,” said the governor. Wolf. “These bills will do just that, increasing benefits for veterans, expanding awareness efforts and strengthening education and employment opportunities. I encourage the General Assembly to pass these bills so that we can begin to administer these benefits to veterans.
“As a nation and community, we must ensure that the service and sacrifice of our veterans is never overlooked or forgotten,” said Schindler. “I join Governor Wolf in encouraging passage of these important bills to meet the needs of our veterans. “
The bill package would expand benefits such as veterans’ hiring preference, property tax exemption for disabled veterans, fishing license fee exemptions for therapeutic programs and Reimbursement of Military Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage for National Guard members. Several of the bills improve the ability of the DMVA to support Pennsylvania veterans and military personnel.
Here are the bills that the Wolf administration is supporting as a priority:
- SB 849: clarifies that the state’s hiring preference for veterans applies to those who have been medically released.
- SB 578 / HB 1953: Extends the property tax exemption program to all 100% disabled veterans and the unmarried surviving spouse of servicemen who died in the line of duty.
- SB 241: Grants exemptions from fishing license fees for veterans in therapy programs.
- HB 1612: Extends Service Member Group Life Insurance (SGLI) reimbursement to National Guard members in Federal Emergency Status (T32).
Awareness of veterans
- HB 995: Codifies PA VETConnect as a veterans awareness program of the AVD.
- HB 803 / SB 433: Establishes special fund for Keystone State Challenge Academy, Pennsylvania’s National Guard Youth Challenge program.
- HB 1421: Updates the Veterans Burial Program to increase the payment amount and allow more flexibility in contracting with the organizations that offer the program.
- HB 159: Recognizes the Department of Defense (DOD) Family Rights Advocacy (FAP) program to address child and household abuse in military communities and to complement lines of communication with protection services of childhood (CPS).
Education and employment of veterans
- HB 941: Grants resident status to military personnel, their dependents, and civilian personnel assigned to active duty positions in Pennsylvania for tuition fees at institutes of higher education.
- HB 1868: Encourages veterans representation on state licensing boards and allows military experience to replace education requirements in licensing.