The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee cleared a series of bills to support veterans during a Jan. 30 hearing at the State House in Trenton.
The legislative package is focused on providing aid in a number of ways.
In advance of the hearing, committee chairman Sen. Joe Cryan, D-20th District, said the meeting offered an opportunity to focus on the businesses and organizations that are leading the way with resourceful and innovative programs that actively support veterans and their families.
Bills unanimously cleared by the committee include:
- Senate Bill 1264 – concerns professional licensing and application fees for spouse or dependent of active-duty member of United States Armed Forces
- Senate Bill 3292 – prohibits persons from receiving compensation for advising or assisting with veterans’ benefits
- Senate Bill 3475 – allows for issuance of two-year temporary courtesy license for nonresident military spouses in certain professions
- Senate Bill 3484 – requires Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provide a central website registry of unclaimed veteran organization locating services; requires funeral director report possession of unclaimed veteran cremains
- Senate Bill 3485 – increases personal needs allowance to $50 for recipients of Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income who are veterans or spouses; provides for annual cost-of-living increase in allowance
- Senate Bill 3492 – requires converting portion of Paramus and Menlo Park veterans’ memorial homes into single occupancy and negative pressure ventilation rooms in addition to upgrades to ventilation systems
- Senate Joint Resolution 106 – designates April 14 of each year as “Military Child Appreciation Day” in N.J.
“They are examples of what can be done for the men and women who have served and sacrificed in the armed forces,” said Cryan. “We have a shared responsibility to honor their service with support and assistance for those in need.”
The meeting featured testimony by a number of businesses and organizations to highlight their efforts to support the veterans community, including: Bristol Meyer Squib, Verizon, Volunteers of America, the United Services Automobile Association, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, NJ Vet2Vet, NJ SOS Veterans and NJ Bankers Association.
“We are honored to have some folks who do incredible work, both in the corporate America side and in the nonprofit side,” said Cryan at the outset. “And wanted to give the committee, and hopefully many ears besides, the opportunity to hear and understand the good works that folks do.”
Cryan noted the recent 50th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Accords, as well as Monday marking the 55th anniversary of the start of the Tet Offensive.
“The majority of veterans in New Jersey look back to the Vietnam conflict as part of their service,” said Cryan. “And today, along your thoughts and travels, and as we do the good work of this committee and you bring us the good forth work that you do, please remember those heroes who died in those conflicts as we remember them always.”
Gov. Phil Murphy announced this fall that the state was seeking outside management for New Jersey’s beleaguered state-run veterans homes. Click here to read the story.