Support for Our Veterans
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FY 2013 Budget Recommendation:
Issues in Brief
Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor
Massachusetts is proud to support its
veterans, and the Patrick-Murray Administration has worked to protect funding
for veteran services and benefits during difficult budget times. The
Administration values veterans from all eras and has made supporting veterans a
top priority. Because of the level of benefits the Commonwealth provides (such
as tuition waivers at state colleges and universities, support for indigent
veterans and expansion of the state’s women veterans’ network), Massachusetts
is first in the nation in veterans’ services. These services reflect the
respect the Patrick-Murray Administration has for all that veterans and their
families have done for our country.
The economic downturn has hit veterans hard. In 2010 the
nationwide unemployment rate was 11.5% for post 9/11 veterans, with the rate as
high as 26.9% for those between the ages of 18-24. These numbers reflect the
harsh reality that veterans face here in Massachusetts. This is tragic, not
only because of the special contributions of servicemen and women in the
military, but also because of the special opportunity presented by the
training, discipline and skill sets veterans have to be unique and productive
contributors to our workforce.
Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, the Administration
launched an aggressive veterans’ employment initiative in November 2011, which
is reflected in the FY 2013 budget proposal. Services provided through
the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) and the Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea
and Holyoke have been largely preserved, and in many cases, such as veterans’
annuities and benefits, the FY 2013 budget helps state government meet the
growing caseload demands.
Investments to Support Veterans
The Patrick-Murray Administration will continue to invest in
programs that serve veterans and military family members in the FY 2013 budget.
These programs will seek to employ veterans, improve the health of veterans and
ensure veterans receive the benefits they deserve. Some of these initiatives
- Reimbursing cities and towns for 100% of homeless
veterans’ costs. DVS will now reimburse cities and towns with homeless
shelters 100% for the services provided to veterans rather than the 75%
previously reimbursed to cities and towns.
- Funding 100% of the benefit costs for newly qualified
disabled veterans, Gold Star Parents and spouses. Starting in FY 2013,
DVS will no longer pro-rate the first payment made to annuitants. Every
veteran or family member will receive a $1 K benefit when they first
qualify for the annuities program. The Commonwealth will serve a
projected 11,054 veterans in FY 2013 through the annuity program.
- Initiating an innovative partnership for veteran’s jobs
training with the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership
(MassMEP). The FY 2013 budget will include $500 K to train and employ
veterans in manufacturing who qualify for Chapter 115, a state statute
that provides benefits for veterans.
- Formalizing the Veterans Quit Smoking Patch Giveaway
initiative at the Department of Public Health (DPH). The FY 2013 budget
will include $700 K for the Veterans Quit Smoking Patch Giveaway
initiative. This funding will make permanent the past successful pilot
programs to offer free patches to veterans and military family members to
help them quit smoking. This includes counseling through the quit-line
and nicotine patches as well as an informational and promotional campaign.
DPH anticipates serving 5,000 people through this initiative.
- Permanently exempting Gold Star spouses from property
taxes. Spouses of those who have died in active duty will receive an
extension to the property tax abatement. Currently, Gold Star Spouses are
tax exempt for five years with a cap of $2,500 per year in years six and
on. This proposal will make the tax exemption permanent until the Gold
Star Spouse dies or remarries.
- Increasing efficiency and delivering better services to
veterans by combining three homeless shelter and outreach center appropriations,
which cover over 30 outreach centers and homeless shelters, to achieve
efficiencies. DVS will implement population-based, regionalized
homelessness services. Outreach centers provide services to approximately
2,000 vets each year, while homeless shelters serve 2,936 homeless
- Preserving unique services offered by the Commonwealth’s
two Soldiers’ Homes. The Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke will
receive funding increases over FY 2012 to ensure continued levels of care.
Overall, the Soldiers’ Home of Massachusetts receives a 4% increase over FY
2012, and the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke receives a 1% increase over FY 2012.
The administrative accounts at Chelsea and Holyoke will increase to
support staffing and maintenance needs. The Soldiers’ Homes will continue
to serve approximately 430 veterans in long-term care and 330 veterans in
dormitories, who require housing and medical assistance.
Prepared by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
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