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Massachusetts law about veterans

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

Table of Contents


Coronavirus FAQs: What veterans need to know, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Answers to common questions relating to healthcare, benefits payments, claims, and other COVID-19 related issues impacting veterans.

Best bets

Mass VetsAdvisor, Mass. Department of Veterans' Services
Information on federal and state veterans' benefits with a guided search that tailors results to individual veterans, showing only benefits for which they qualify.

Veterans' laws and benefits, Secretary of the Commonwealth, August 2019
An overview of the resources and services available to Massachusetts veterans in education, employment, housing, motor vehicles, property taxes, and medical assistance.

Resource guide for veterans and servicemembers, Mass. Attorney General, November 2018
Provides access to information on a variety of topics, including finances, housing, medical care, education, motor vehicles, legal assistance, 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.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 Section 16:  A defendant who is determined to be a veteran, on active service or has a history of military service in the armed forces of the United States and who is eligible for diversion or treatment  under section 10 may, at arraignment, be afforded a 14-day continuance by the court to seek an assessment by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.  A probation officer shall have jurisdiction to divert to a program any person who is a veteran and who would benefit from a 14-day continuance to determine whether he or she is eligible for diversion to treatment services in lieu of imprisonment.

St. 2014, c. 62 Valor Act II. An Act Relative to Veterans' Allowances, Labor, Outreach and Recognition. 
Provisions of the bill include:

  • Creating program to provide funding for home modifications made necessary by a veteran’s service-connected disability.
  • Allowing students enrolled in college, who are called to active duty, to either complete their course work without penalty after returning or to withdraw and receive a tuition refund.
  • Increasing penalties for disturbing military funerals by a fine of not more than $2,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 2 years in a house of correction, or both.
  • Protecting against charity fraud by mandating that organizations apply for designation as a veterans’ charitable organization prior to 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. It limits the crimes to which the act can apply, makes the provisions of the act available to first time offenders only, and makes the act available only to those who have been clinically diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder or serious mental illness in connection with the veteran’s military service or the person’s active duty.

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

PAWS Act P. L. 117-37 (Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members for Veterans Therapy Act) will help provide veterans with dog training from non-governmental 501(c)(3) organizations by expanding the eligibility for veterans to receive funding to purchase a dog and requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement a grant program for the purpose of pairing service dogs with eligible veterans. Organizations that receive grants must provide veterinary health insurance coverage, hardware, and travel expenses for each service dog and veteran participating in the program.

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 21, 2018. Not available online.
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. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2019
An overview of the most commonly sought information concerning Veterans benefits and services. 

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

Local veterans' service officers, Mass. Department 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., 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, US 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. Department 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.
"If you are a veteran overwhelmed with the high cost of long-term elder care, such as paying for assisted living facilities, home care aids, adult daycare, or skilled nursing, the Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit could be the solution to help offset these rising care costs. A wartime veteran or their surviving spouse with limited income may be eligible to receive a non-service connected pension (this means that the need for care does not have to result from one’s military service)."

Veterans' bonus division
"Through our program, we serve veterans of the Commonwealth and their families by providing financial assistance when eligible. 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. Department 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. Department 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

Estate planning for the aging or incapacitated client in Massachusetts, MCLE, loose-leaf.
Chapter 30: Veterans Benefits and Other Benefits Related to Military Service.

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

Massachusetts practice, vol. 56 (Elder law), West, updated annually, Chapter 6.

Veterans appeals guidebook, ABA, 2013.

Veterans benefits, MCLE, 2017.

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



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Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: August 30, 2021