Massachusetts law about veterans

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on veterans' legal issues, by the Trial Court Law Libraries.

If you are unable to find the information you are looking for, or if you have a specific question, please contact our law librarians for assistance.

Table of Contents


Coronavirus FAQs: What veterans need to know, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
Answers to common COVID-19 questions on issues impacting veterans. Topics include health care, benefits payments, and claims.

Best bets

Mass Vets Advisor, Mass. Dept. of Veterans' Services.
Information on federal and state veterans' benefits. Veterans can search to see which benefits they may qualify for.

Veterans' laws and benefits, Secretary of the Commonwealth, September 2022.
An overview of the resources and services available to Massachusetts veterans. Covers a wide range of topics.

Resource guide for veterans and servicemembers, Mass. Attorney General, November 2018.
Provides information on a variety of topics, including finances, housing, education, and legal assistance. Contains information for family members, support groups, and more.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.4, § 7 (43rd) Definition of who is a veteran

MGL c.115 Veterans' benefits

MGL c.15A, § 16 Public service scholarship program for children of veterans killed in action

MGL c.15A, § 19 Tuition and fee waiver for veterans attending state colleges and universities

MGL c.15A, § 19 3/4 In-state student status for members of the armed forces, and their spouses and children attending state colleges and universities; see also MGL c.71, § 6B (resident pupil classification) (Effective November 3, 2022)

MGL c.15E Interstate compact on educational opportunity for military children

MGL c.59, § 5 Property tax exemptions for veterans

MGL c.118E, § 25 (4 1/2) Aid and Attendance is exempt from countable assets for Medicaid eligibility

MGL c.132A, § 2D Free access to certain parks for Purple Heart recipients

MGL c.149, § 52A-1/2 Participation in Memorial Day and Veterans Day events
A veteran scheduled to work on Veterans Day may be entitled to paid time off under certain circumstances.

MGL c.151B, § 4 Prohibiting employment discrimination against veterans

MGL c.272, § 106 Stolen Valor Act

MGL c.276A, §§ 10-11 Pretrial diversion of veterans charged with a crime

St.2012, c.108 Valor Act. An act relative to veterans' access, livelihood, opportunity and resources
Includes provision granting judges discretion to divert defendants with a history of military service to treatment programs.

St.2014, c.62 Valor Act II. An act relative to veterans' allowances, labor, outreach and recognition
Provisions of the bill include:

  • Creating funding for necessary home modifications due to a veteran’s service-connected disability.
  • Allowing college students who are called to active duty to:
    • complete their course work without penalty after returning, or
    • withdraw and receive a tuition refund.
  • Increasing penalties for disturbing military funerals
  • Protecting against charity fraud by mandating that organizations apply for designation as a veterans’ charitable organization before requesting donations.

St.2018, c.218 BRAVE Act. An Act relative to veterans' benefits, rights, appreciation, validation and enforcement
Among other provisions, significantly narrows the law that gave lower court judges discretion to send veterans to treatment programs rather than arraign them on criminal charges. The act:

  • Limits the crimes to which the act can apply
  • Applies the provisions of the act available to first time offenders only
  • Makes the act available only to veterans who have been diagnosed with certain conditions.

St.2022, c.154 SPEED Act. An act relative to military spouse-licensure portability, education and enrollment of dependents
Eases relocation requirements for military families.

Massachusetts regulations

108 CMR Department of Veterans' Benefits

Massachusetts executive orders

EO 565: Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Program: Applies to veteran-owned businesses

Federal laws and regulations

38 U.S.C. Veteran's benefits

38 U.S.C. Chapter 33 Post-9/11 GI Bill (education benefits for veterans)

38 U.S.C. Chapter 43 Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

38 CFR Chapter 1 Department of Veterans Affairs

Honoring our PACT Act of 2022 Expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances

PAWS Act P. L. 117-37 (Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members for Veterans Therapy Act) 
Among other provisions, this act expands veterans’ eligibility for service dogs.

Selected case law

Allen v. Principi, 237 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2001) 
38 U.S.C. § 1110, which precludes disability benefits for injuries caused by a veteran's alcohol or drug abuse, does not preclude benefits for a veteran whose alcohol or drug problem is a result of or evidence of a service-connected injury.

Casey v. Casey, 79 Mass. App. Ct. 623 (2011)
A veteran's disability benefits constitute income for purposes of child support.

Cushman v. Shinseki, 576 F.3d 1290 (Fed. Cir. 2009)
Veterans cannot be denied benefits without due process, including notice and fair opportunity to be heard.

D'Amico v. West, 209 F.3d 1322 (Fed. Cir. 2000) 
"A claim for veteran's disability benefits has five elements: (1) veteran status; (2) existence of a disability; (3) service connection of the disability; (4) degree of disability, and (5) effective date of the disability. The veteran must have been "'discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.'"

Jeffrey Machado v. Goldberg, Suffolk Superior Court 1784CV02056 (December 24, 2018)
Decision ordered the state to reconsider its ruling that veterans with "other than honorable" discharges are not eligible for Welcome Home bonuses.

Stacy v. Stacy, 97 Mass. App. Ct. 160 (2020)
Federal law preempts Massachusetts courts from treating veterans' disability payments as marital property subject to equitable distribution.

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
Searchable opinions and orders as well as information on appeals, forms and rules.

Web sources

Federal benefits for veterans, dependents and survivors, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, 2021.
An overview of the most sought-after information about veterans benefits and services.

GI Bill website, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
Comprehensive source of information on all educational benefits available under the GI Bill.

Local veterans' service officers, Mass. Dept. of Veterans' Services.
An alphabetized list, by city, of service officers and their contact information. County Veterans Service Officers (CVSO), are employed by their respective states, and are knowledgeable individuals who know their way around the VA system.

Protections against employment discrimination for service members and veterans, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Details federal laws and other authorities that provide workplace protections specific to service members and veterans, U.S. Department of Justice.
Information on federal laws protecting the rights of servicemembers, veterans, and their families. 

Total and permanent disability discharge of student loans, U.S. Dept. of Education.
If you're a veteran, you can qualify for a TPD discharge by providing documentation from the VA that shows you have received a VA disability determination because you (1) have a service-connected disability that is 100 percent disabling; or (2) are totally disabled based on an individual unemployability rating.

USERRA advisor, U.S. Dept. of Labor.
Overview of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). Includes questions and answers to help veterans learn about their USERRA rights.

VA Aid & Attendance Program & other pensions for aging veterans, October 2018.
Information on benefits available to help offset the cost of long-term elder care for veterans. Wartime veterans or surviving spouses may be eligible to receive a non-service-connected pension.

Veterans' Bonus Division
"The Veterans' Bonus Division distributes bonuses for eligible active duty, discharged, and deceased Massachusetts veterans who served during various conflicts in single or multiple deployments."

Veterans' education, Mass. Dept. of Higher Education.
Provides information for veterans, service members and dependents on resources available to further their education goals.

Veterans' employment and training service (VETS), U.S. Dept. of Labor.
Resources to help veterans prepare for meaningful careers, develop expertise, and find employment. Includes section on employment rights.

Veterans' legal services (VLS) 
Provides free legal advice to homeless and low-income veterans with a case in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth or Suffolk counties. "Veterans Legal Services' mission is to promote self-sufficiency, stability, and financial security of homeless and low-income veterans through free and accessible legal services."

Veterans' service benefits, Mass. Legal Help.
Information on the assistance available to veterans and their families who are facing financial hardship in an easy-to-read format.

Veterans' treatment courts, Mass. Trial Court.
"Veterans’ treatment courts are designed to handle criminal cases involving defendants who have a history of military service through a coordinated effort among the veterans services delivery system, community-based providers, and the court, thereby improving public safety while dealing with the underlying issues of posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and military sexual trauma." There are currently five veterans' treatments courts: Boston, Dedham, Framingham, Holyoke and Lawrence.

Print sources

COVID-19 and recent developments in veterans' benefits, MCLE, 2021. 

Federal veterans laws, rules and regulations, LexisNexis, updated annually.

Elder law, (Mass. Practice, vol. 56), Thomson/West, updated annually, Chapter 6. 

Veterans appeals guidebook, ABA, 2013.

Veterans benefits, MCLE, 2017.

Veterans benefits manual, National Veterans Legal Services Program, updated annually.


Last updated: November 15, 2022

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