It's always heartening when protection and support for active duty service members and veterans are added to state and federal laws. These regulations show that lawmakers are aware of the issues that affect today's military personnel and are doing something to help.
The challenges that come with serving and coming home from active duty are well known and documented, and this means there is plenty of scope to take action and step up aid at both state and national levels. The United States prides itself on being a country that looks after its veterans and current military members, and a few recent laws should help it live up to that promise.
Two new bills in Massachusetts
As the Eagle-Tribune recently reported, Massachusetts has recently passed not one, but two laws designed to help with everyday needs faced by military members in the state. The first piece of legislation eliminates state excise tax on vehicles. The bill was sponsored by state Representative Diana DiZoglio, who heard from a constituent that when military members are on active duty, their vehicles rack up high tax bills back home. Creating the new exception allows a little more financial peace of mind for service personnel.
The news provider reported the bill has now become a law after getting the approval of Governor Charlie Baker, and applies to members of the military deployed outside of Massachusetts over a period of six months or more. The fact that the new law deals with a single tax shows that it was conceived and passed with a specific problem in mind.
As for the second new military-focused bill, the Eagle-Tribune explained it is a wide-ranging bill seeking better conditions for veterans. It will achieve this end by authorizing the creation of a commission. The new body is meant to investigate pressing matters for returning service personnel, such as the risks of suffering from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Broader topic areas to be addressed by the committee include the transition process from active duty soldier to civilian, with all the challenges that entails.
Medical records fees waived in Rhode Island
Rhode Island newspaper The Breeze recently explained that the state has just passed its own piece of practical, veteran-friendly legislation. The Rhode Island bill is designed to ensure that veterans applying for benefits do not need to pay money to access their medical records. One of the bill's sponsors, state Senator Donna Nesselbush, explained that the law is meant to create a clear pathway to benefits, a much-needed consideration when individuals return home with pressing medical needs.
The news provider laid out the fees covered by the law, including processing, retrieval and copying fees as well as postage. Language in the legislation also insists that agencies process requests quickly – within 30 days of submission. This is yet another bill that has a narrow scope but could be a huge help for the many veterans returning to their communities and applying for valuable medical services that can improve their quality of life.