The Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services was re-established by Governor Patrick’s Executive Order Number 483 in April of 2007 and appointed former Lt. Governor Tim Murray as the Chairman. For 12 years this Council lay dormant and previous Governor’s did not convene it. Governor Patrick and former Lt. Governor Murray brought this Council back go give veterans, their family members, and their advocates a seat at the table in the Governor’s Office. The Council is currently chaired by Secretary Coleman Nee of the Department of Veterans' Services.
The Council works to review and assess state, federal, and local programs relating to veterans and the delivery of services to veterans, including healthcare, education, housing, outreach, and workforce training and retraining. The Council educates the people of the Commonwealth and their elected and appointed officials regarding issues of importance to the Commonwealth’s more than 385,000 veterans.
Under the leadership of the Patrick Administration, Massachusetts has continued to lead the nation in veterans’ services by:
- Ensuring funding for Veterans and their Families: Each year during the budget process the Chairman advocates to protect and when possible increase funding for veterans’ services. In January of 2012, Former Lt. Governor Murray announced an $11.25 million dollar increase in the FY 2013 budget for programs that impact veterans and military families.
- Getting our Veterans back to Work by investing and focusing on jobs and workforce training for veterans: Former Lt. Governor Murray reached out to major trade associations in the Commonwealth to encourage them to hire veterans and circulate information on veterans benefits. The Massachusetts Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, the Mass High Tech Council, the Defense Technology Initiative, and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts are among the growing list of major trade associations committed to working with the Administration and the Massachusetts veteran community to employ veterans.
- Supporting Military Children: Working with the National Guard’s Military and Family Support Center, former Lt. Governor Murray worked to create a statewide collaboration of military, state, and community resources to establish a Military Child Educational Awareness Program.
- Adding a Veterans Designation on Licenses: Former Lt. Governor Murray asked DVS, MassDOT, and the RMV to give veterans the option to add an optional Veterans Designation on the front of all MA Driver's Licenses and State IDs . Since January of 2012 more than 10,000 veterans have now accessed this new optional benefit.
- Ensuring Access to Education and the GI Bill: Former Lt. Governor Murray initiated more frequent training and education for veterans’ representatives at colleges and universities throughout the Commonwealth through the Department of Veterans’ Services and the Department of Higher Education to make all college campus veteran friendly campuses.
- Leading Veterans Tours to Promote Services for Veterans and their Families: Since 2009 former Lt. Governor Murray participated in various tours, meetings, and events supporting and relating to military and veterans issues as part of his Annual MASS Veterans Tour. The purpose of these tours are to promote and publicize the services offered by the local, state, and federal governments available to veterans and their family members, with a goals of reaching those who have not yet taken advantage of these services; increasing public awareness about the needs of our veterans and military families; and to express thanks to those who have served in the military, by honoring them for their service, and acknowledging their commitment to defending the country.
- Supporting Legislative Solutions: Former Lt. Governor Murray supported comprehensive veterans legislation in 2009 signed by Governor Patrick on Veterans Day which expanded the benefits and services presently offered to the Commonwealth’s veterans and their families, including increasing the cash bonus available to service members who serve multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and by creating a “Medal of Liberty” for the next of kin of any Massachusetts service member killed in action or who dies as a result of wounds received while in action. In 2012 former Lt. Governor Murray worked with the legislature on the passage of the VALOR Act which expanded services for veterans and their families even more.