For Immediate Release - January 30, 2008

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION AND ATTORNEY GENERAL COAKLEY TO ENSURE VETERANS RECEIVE BENEFITS THEY DESERVE

Letters sent to all MA cities and towns reminding them of their obligations to advise veterans of their rights and benefits

BOSTON - Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - Continuing the Commonwealth's commitment to providing some of the most comprehensive veterans' benefits in the country, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Secretary of Veterans' Services Thomas Kelley and Attorney General Martha Coakley are reminding municipal leaders of their obligations to veterans in their communities.

In a letter sent to municipal leaders, the Administration and Attorney General Coakley are notifying cities and towns of the obligations they have under Chapter 115 of the Massachusetts General Laws to appoint a Veterans' Service Officer (VSO).

A full-time VSO, whose duties include locating veterans, advising them of their rights and benefits, and helping them apply for and receive state and federal benefits, is required in cities and towns with populations over 12,000; towns with populations under 12,000 may employ a part-time VSO.

"With our nation at war, we must do all we can to thank and support these brave men and women when they return home," said Lieutenant Governor Murray. "Since the Civil War, Massachusetts has had a long history of supporting our veterans. This begins in our cities and towns with the local Veterans' Service Officer."

Regardless of full or part-time status, VSOs are the primary contact for veterans and their families with questions about benefits such as housing, fuel assistance, employment and vocational opportunities, medical care, education, and burial expenses. They are also responsible for pro-actively and regularly seeking out veterans to advise them of a11 benefits to which they are entitled, and posting and holding regular office hours.

"The Commonwealth provides some of the most comprehensive veterans' benefits in the country in areas such as housing, fuel assistance, employment and vocational opportunities, medical care, and education," said Attorney General Coakley. "We are grateful to the men and women who have made tremendous sacrifices to serve our country and want to ensure that veterans and their families receive the benefits and assistance to which they are entitled when they return home."

"Massachusetts is known nationwide as a leader for the care and support we provide to our veterans. A critical component of that effort is the Veterans' Service Officer representing every city or town who acts as the primary point of contact for veterans in that community," said Thomas G. Kelley, Secretary of Veterans' Services. "We appreciate the hard work and dedication that these veteran service officers bring to their posts and we strongly encourage all of our local governments to support them and ensure that their municipality is in compliance with all of the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth regarding our veterans."

The Commonwealth is asking Mayors, City and Town Managers, and Selectmen to ensure that their city or town is in full compliance with Chapter 115 and to provide the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services (DVS) with the name of their VSO by March 1, 2008. The DVS is available to assist with compliance issues in this area. For any questions about bringing your city or town into compliance, please contact the DVS at 617-210-5480.

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