Just in time for Memorial Day, Representative Mike Connolly recently joined with his Cambridge and Somerville colleagues in the House of Representatives to vote in favor of legislation to support Massachusetts’ veterans and military families.
The bill, S.2509, An Act relative to veteran's benefits, rights, appreciation, validation and enforcement (a.k.a. the "BRAVE Act") passed the House by a vote of 150 to 0.
The BRAVE Act includes an important provision to make more veterans eligible for property tax exemptions, along with several other provisions aimed at building upon the Commonwealth’s status as a national leader for the number of programs and services it offers to military personnel, veterans and their families.
As a member of the legislature's Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, Rep. Connolly previously voted to advance the BRAVE Act favorably out of committee in February.
"We can all be proud that Massachusetts is at the forefront when it comes to programs and services to benefit our military veterans," Rep. Connolly said following Wednesday's vote.
"I was honored to have the opportunity to help advance this bill through the committee process, and I am humbled and proud to have ability to vote in favor of the final bill this evening. It sends a message to all of our veterans and their families that their service and their sacrifices will always be honored and remembered here in the Commonwealth," Rep. Connolly continued.
“I am proud that the House was able to pass legislation that aims to improve the lives of Veterans in Massachusetts before Memorial Day,” said Representative John J. Lawn, Jr., Chair of the House Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.
"The goal of this legislation was to expand on the Commonwealth’s legacy as a leader of veterans benefits. This long weekend, I hope we all take a moment to appreciate the ultimate sacrifice our servicemen and women have made in exchange for every American’s freedom," Chairman Lawn said.
The bill provides several new financial supports and other benefits and provisions, including:
- Creates a $1,000 active-duty death benefit, in addition to any annuity the person would have received;
- Doubled the burial expense for families of indigent veterans, increasing the amount a deceased veteran’s estate may receive to assist with funeral and burial expenses from $2,000 to $4,000.
- Waives certain training requirements for EMT certification for military trained medical professionals, in recognition of the fact that many people who serve in the military already have specialized medical training.
- Requires every municipality in the Commonwealth to designate at least one parking space at its town or city hall as "veterans-only parking."
- Makes the Fort Devens Museum the official military museum of Massachusetts.
A conference committee will now be appointed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.