Helping Our Veterans
By Senator Bill Diamond
Veterans are often on our minds at the State House. This past weekend, we celebrated Memorial Day, and as I was thinking of the sacrifices our veterans have made, and that the members of our armed forces continue to make, I thought it would be a good time to talk about some of the things we did at the legislature his year to help make life a little easier for our veterans, and to remember and honor their service.
These bills include:
• The establishment of “Veterans’ Treatment Courts.” This is probably the most important veteran-related bill we passed. Because of their experiences in combat, veterans can have legal issues that require special understanding. If treated appropriately in their first exposure to the criminal justice system veterans can have much better long-term results.
To help provide the necessary understanding, the “Veteran’s Treatment Courts” will be held at specific times when trained veterans’ advocates will be available. These advocates will help make sure that any special circumstances facing the veteran, such as PTSD, are understood, and taken into account.
• A bill to help the Department of Health and Human Services and the Defense Department work together to make sure that veterans are receiving all the services and benefits they are entitled to due to their service. Often, veterans don’t realize the benefits they qualify for from the government, and this cooperation between DHHS and DoD will smooth the path for veterans getting linked to the most appropriate services.
• A bill to streamline the process for returning veterans to get professional licenses based on training they received in the military. Currently, there are difficulties and roadblocks in having licensing boards recognize military training. This legislation will ease and speed up the process, helping recently discharged military personnel get appropriate jobs in the civilian sector.
• Legislation to allow returning veterans to get temporary registration for their vehicles.
• To recognize past service we also passed bills to ensure proper care of veteran’s graves, make it easier for towns to update and maintain municipal honor rolls for veterans, and set up a plaque in the Hall of Flags at the State House honoring all who have served honorably in the military.
Mainers have always been at the forefront when it comes to defending our country, and we in the Legislature appreciate that very much.
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