Today, Governor Charlie Baker was joined by active duty service members and veterans of the United States Armed Services, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Veterans\u0027 Services Francisco\u00a0Ure\u00f1a and members of the legislature as he signed\u00a0\u00a0An Act relative to housing, operations, military service, and enrichment, (H. 4285) or\u00a0\u0022The HOME Act,\u0022\u00a0into law. The omnibus legislation provides additional support for members of the Armed Services, veterans, gold star families, and the Commonwealth\u0027s two\u00a0Soldiers\u2019 Homes.\u00a0\n\n\u201cWe are\u00a0grateful to the brave men and women who have answered the call for our nation and Commonwealth ,\u0022\u00a0said Governor Charlie Baker.\u00a0\u0022I am honored to sign this legislation enhancing the services Massachusetts provides to those active service members, veterans and families who selflessly serve to\u00a0secure our safety and freedom.\u0022\n\n\u201cThis legislation provides important support for the veterans and service members of our Armed Services who have fought to uphold our nation\u2019s values,\u201d\u00a0said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.\u00a0\u201cWe are pleased to provide critical assistance with financial security, housing, and educational opportunities for all those who have served and for their loved ones here at home.\u201d\n\n\u201cThese laws highlight our commitment as a Commonwealth to our veteran population,\u201d\u00a0said Secretary of Veteran Affairs Francisco Ure\u00f1a. \u201cI am pleased to see the legislature\u2019s support of our country\u2019s heroes.\u201d\n\n\u201cI am so proud of the commitment from my colleagues and the Baker Administration in continuing to address the needs of our veterans,\u201d said\u00a0Senator Mike Rush, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.\u00a0 \u201cThis legislation not only provides comprehensive services and programs to those who serve their country, but give them the recognition that they deserve.\u00a0 It is our job as elected officials to do all we can to support those brave men and women and their families who serve this great country.\u201d\n\n\u201cThere is no question that Massachusetts is number one in terms of providing services to our veterans,\u201d\u00a0said Representative Jerry Parisella, Chairman of the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.\u00a0\u201cAlthough we do so much for our veterans, it is important that we continue to improve the lives of those who have so gallantly served their country.\u201d\n\nThe legislation (as amended in\u00a0H. 4477), signed into law by Governor Baker includes:\n\nSection 1, Designates the Fall River Gold Star monument the official gold star monument of the Commonwealth.\n\tSection 4, Expands the Public Service Scholarship to extend support to benefit children of service members held as prisoners of war or missing in action in any conflict.\n\tSections 6-8,\u00a0Extend pay and benefits protections for employees of the Commonwealth who serve in the National Guard units or in reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces when they are called to service\n\tSections 9-10, Extend total municipal real estate tax exemption to cover surviving spouses of any service member killed during active duty service and veterans with service-connected blindness that results in a 100% disability rating from the Federal Veterans Administration.\n\tSection 12, Allows for municipalities to establish a way for individuals to voluntarily check off, donate, or pledge an amount of money which shall go to the Municipal Veterans Assistance Fund. The Fund provides support for vets and their dependents in need of immediate assistance with food, transportation, heat and oil expenses\n\tSections 17-20,\u00a0Expand provisions establishing preferences for veterans in publicly-supported housing units.\n\tSections 22-24, Add veteran status as protected class under the law prohibiting discrimination in employment (Ch. 151B, \u00a74).