BOSTON – State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) joined his Massachusetts Senate colleagues on Thursday in unanimously passing “The Brave Act,” which will expand benefits and increase access to a range of services for veterans, active-duty military and their families.
“I think it’s critical that we recognize the sacrifice that military personnel and their families make while on active duty, but also that we realize that they face unique challenges when returning home to our communities,” Senator Eldridge said. “I want to thank Senator Rush and Senate President Chandler for their leadership in passing this important bill, which will assist veterans and their families with employment protections, tax exemptions, burial expenses, court programs, and medical care.”
On the recognition front, the legislation designates the 5th day of April as Gold Star Wives Day and the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mothers and Families Day and directs cities and towns to designate reserved parking for veterans at all city and town halls.
The bill also grants paid military leave for those called to duty by the armed forces for up to 40 days for training and operation purposes.
To help ease the costs of housing, the legislation changes the requirement for veterans to receive property tax exemptions from residing in the Commonwealth for five years down to two years. It also increases the amount a veteran can earn on their property tax exemption for volunteering in their city or town.
The BRAVE Act increases the burial expense paid by commonwealth from $2,000 to $4,000 for indigent veterans to receive to adequately provide for a dignified funeral. It also exempts any veterans who receive annuities for service to their country from income calculations when applying for state programs or services.
The bill also addresses the following by:
- Addressing emergency medical transportation reimbursements;
- Revising Veteran Court Diversion programs;
- Updating the veteran bonus program at the State Treasurer’s Office, and;
- Provides several studies and analysis regarding higher education, incarcerated veterans, and National Guard recognition.
The BRAVE Act, which now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration, is the Senate’s latest effort to support veterans, military members and their families.