Press Release

Press Release  Healey-Driscoll Administration and Broad Coalition of Stakeholders Testify in Support of Veterans Legislative Package

An Act Honoring, Empowering, and Recognizing Our Servicemembers and Veterans (HERO Act) will positively impact hundreds of thousands of veterans living in Massachusetts.
For immediate release:
  • Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll
  • Executive Office of Veterans Services

Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration and Broad Coalition of Stakeholders Testify in Support of Veterans Legislative Package

Karissa Hand, Press Secretary

Boston — Today, Governor Maura Healey and Secretary of the Veterans Services Jon Santiago testified in support of H. 4172, the An Act Honoring, Empowering, and Recognizing our Servicemembers and Veterans (HERO Act), before the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.     

The HERO Act marks the first comprehensive legislative package dedicated to veterans' welfare introduced by a Massachusetts Governor in two decades. 

“The HERO Act represents a visionary commitment by our administration to redefine the landscape of veterans' services for Massachusetts. At its core, the bill ensures that veterans receive proper support by expanding benefits, modernizing services, and reaching more veterans and families,” said Governor Maura Healey. "Together, we can ensure that Massachusetts not only does right by our veterans, but leads the nation in providing the best veterans’ services.” 

“As the proud daughter of a Navy veteran, I understand the impact that the sacrifices made by our servicemembers have on military families," said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. "That's why we filed the HERO Act – to ensure we actively support our veterans and their families in the most effective manner possible." 

"When veterans return home from active duty and transition into civilian life, our priority at the Executive Office of Veterans Services is to ensure they and their families receive support," said Secretary Jon Santiago. "The legislation takes a vital stride towards meeting the diverse needs of our veteran community, addressing issues from expanding benefits to modernizing services." 

The HERO Act proposes 17 spending and policy initiatives, tax credits, and statutory changes seeking to improve the lives of veterans through benefit expansion, commitment to inclusivity and greater representation, and modernization of veterans’ services. Key highlights include:  

  • Increasing the EOVS Disabled Veteran Annuity: Increases the annual annuity paid from $2,000 to $2,500, phased in over two fiscal years.  

  • Expanding Veteran Access to Behavioral Health Treatment: Allows any Chapter 115 recipient to be reimbursed for outpatient behavioral health care visits.  

  • Increasing the Vet-Hire Tax Credit: Increase the tax credit to $2,500 for small businesses hiring chronically unemployed or low-income veterans. Eligible veterans include those receiving SNAP benefits, chronically unemployed veterans, and unemployed service-connected disabled veterans.  

  • Increasing access to the Active-Duty Buyback program: This provision lengthens the timeframe for veterans to participate in the Active-Duty Service Buyback program from 180 days to 10 years and provides a retroactive grace period for veteran state employees who missed this opportunity.  

  • Broadening the Chapter 115 Definition of a Veteran: Better aligns the state Chapter 115 program definition of a veteran with the federal definition. This change allows more Massachusetts veterans to be eligible for the annuity, Chapter 115 benefits, and other state benefits. This only applies to EOVS programs and does not affect any other agency or entity.  

The administration collaborated with municipal veteran service officers representing more than 100 municipalities and engaged with over 30 nonprofit partners to determine the legislative and programmatic priorities of the veteran community. A comprehensive 50-state review of veteran policies and legislative efforts was also conducted. 

Statements of Support 

Peggy Griffin, Chair, Gold Star Wives of America, Greater Boston Chapter: 

“The Greater Boston Chapter of Gold Star Wives of America is proud to support the HERO Act that supports Gold Star Wives, our veterans, and their families. Governor Healey's continued commitment to veterans and their families is demonstrated in this bill. The bill proposes, among many actions, property tax relief and a 25% increase to the annuity which will provide much needed help to relieve the financial burden our members face due to the sacrifice of our loved ones. We are grateful for the continued commitment of Governor Healey and the Legislature for their support of our national heroes and their families.” 

Patrick George, President, Massachusetts Veterans Service Officers Association: 

“We are grateful for the Administration’s commitment to supporting Veterans. This bill would expand eligibility for Veterans who work for state and local governments to buy their military time back into the pension system; additionally, this bill increases the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Annuity for our 100% disabled Veterans, and widows who receive a service-connected death annuity. The annuity has been the same amount of money for over 10 years and this increase will go a long way for the recipients. Lastly, the bill will tie Veteran property tax abatements to the consumer price index, ensuring the value of the abatement remains the same regardless of inflation.” 

Michael Valila, Deputy Adjutant, Disabled American Veterans (DAV): 

“The DAV Department of Massachusetts supports H4172, an Act honoring, empowering, and recognizing our servicemembers and veterans. The HERO Act expands benefits to veterans, creates more opportunities of inclusivity, and modernizes veteran services across the state providing benefits to thousands of veterans. This is recognized by many as one of the largest pieces of veteran legislation brought before the Commonwealth in decades, and for decades, our unwavering priority has been providing access to benefits for veterans. As such, it is the position of DAV Department of Massachusetts to favorably support the HERO Act.” 

Vincent J. Perrone, LTC (USAF, ret.), CEO, Veterans Inc.: 

"At Veterans Inc., we recognize the profound impact that access to mental health care has on the well-being of our veterans. The HERO Act's commitment to expanding access to behavioral health treatment for veterans aligns seamlessly with our mission to support those who have sacrificed so much for our nation. We stand united in endorsing this crucial initiative and commend Governor Healey and Secretary Santiago for prioritizing the critical mental health needs of veterans in our communities." 

John Paradis, Veterans Advocacy Coalition: 

“I applaud the efforts of the Healey Administration and Secretary Santiago for furthering the interests of Veterans and their family members. This legislation is both smart and compassionate on so many levels, particularly in providing a much-needed boost to property tax relief and with tax credits to help employers hire more Veterans. This bill is not only essential in fulfilling our state's promise in caring for Veterans with honor and dignity, but also in ensuring Veterans are able to remain in their own homes and can remain in our state.” 

Paul Jacques, Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts: 

“This historic Veteran Legislation will undoubtedly have a positive impact on our Members who have sacrificed so much for our great Country during their Military service and as Firefighters in communities throughout the Commonwealth. The passage of the “Hero Act” will modernize Veteran services for all past, present, and future Veterans” 

Sarko Gergerian from Winthrop Police Department, Rebecca Slater from Boston Psychedelic Research Group, Emily Oneschuk: 

“We wholeheartedly support the Governor’s HERO’s Act as a crucial expansion of veterans’ benefits, their inclusivity, and necessary modernization of services. We are especially enthusiastic about the creation of a working group to study the benefits of psychedelic medicine to treat PTSD making good on the promise of cutting-edge research from leading medical institutions like Mass General Hospital and Johns Hopkins.” 

Jenny D’Olympia, PsyD, Director, Military Veteran Psychology and Train Vets to Treat Vets Program and Angela Taveira-Dick, PhD, Associate Director, Train Vets to Treat Vets Program at William James College: 

"This landmark legislation marks a crucial step forward in bolstering support for the Commonwealth's Veterans. It not only opens doors to innovative approaches in mental health care for those who have valiantly served, but also puts Massachusetts at the forefront of inclusivity in veteran wellness. We feel exceptionally fortunate to live in a state that leads the nation in prioritizing the well-being of our nation's heroes and their families."   

Sam Chapman, Executive Director, Healing Advocacy Fund: 

"The HERO Act supports the study of psychedelic medicine as a new tool for mental health care for those struggling with PTSD, including our veterans. Massachusetts veterans answered the call to serve their state and country, and they deserve to have access to the care they need when they return home.” 

John Parsons, Executive Director, Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission: 

“This bill helps veterans utilize a benefit they are entitled to, but sometimes, for a variety of reasons, it goes unused. Fixing the buyback of military service time has no cost and provides recognition of a veteran’s sacrifice. Additionally, this bill provides a grace period for those veterans who didn’t utilize the benefit an opportunity to do so. This is an issue we have seen and heard about from veterans for years and it’s satisfying to see this addressed for them.” 

Steven Abrams, Armed Services Veterans Affairs Chair, Brockton NAACP:  

“I'm 100% in support of the HERO Act and appreciate the Governor's commitment to our veterans, servicemembers, and their families. This bill is a catalyst for us to launch into the next century and ensure we take care of those who bore the brunt of battle.” 

John Nelson, Massachusetts Coalition of Police: 

"The Massachusetts Coalition of Police stands beside Governor Healey, Secretary Santiago, and all Massachusetts veterans supporting the bills being heard today by the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. It is important to recognize our veteran's service through expansion and protection of benefits." 


Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration and Broad Coalition of Stakeholders Testify in Support of Veterans Legislative Package

  • Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll 

    Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll are committed to bringing people together and making Massachusetts a place where every worker, business and family can succeed.
  • Executive Office of Veterans Services 

    Our mission is to provide the highest quality programs, benefits, and advocacy to Massachusetts veterans alongside federal and local partners.
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