(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Bruce Land, Annette Chaparro and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to make it easier for veterans with disabilities to get around in New Jersey cleared the legislature on Thursday and now heads to the Governor for further consideration.
Current law classifies someone as disabled if he or she: lost the use of at least one limb due to paralysis, amputation or other permanent disability or cannot walk independently or has some other form of limited mobility as certified by a physician.
The bill (A-3749) would revise the law to allow a person designated by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a “100 percent disabled veteran” to receive parking privileges reserved for people with disabilities. Under the legislation, any New Jersey resident honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active military service and deemed permanently 100 percent disabled would be considered a “person with a disability” under the law and eligible for parking privileges accordingly.
“Veterans who incur a service-connected injury shouldn’t have to take additional action to prove that they have a disability if they already have documentation from the VA,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex), vice-chair of the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “A VA designation is sufficient. Requiring anything more only puts an undue burden on New Jersey residents who sacrificed so much for this country.”
“We owe it to the men and women who served in our nation’s military to do anything that can make their lives easier,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), an Army veteran and Bronze Star recipient who served in Vietnam. “Simplifying the process of securing access to parking is just one of many small gestures that can achieve that goal.”
Under the bill, a person who qualifies as a veteran with a permanent disability may submit, in lieu of a statement signed by a certified medical professional, an application for a Motor Vehicle Commission disability identification hanging placard that contains a statement signed by a representative of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs certifying that the person is permanently 100 percent disabled.
Under federal law, a veteran rendered permanently disabled by a service-connected injury may receive from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs a 100 percent disability rating, which entitles the veteran to certain unemployment, health care, and educational benefits.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee on Jan. 12 and the full Assembly, 69-0, on Jan 23. It was approved by the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee on March 13 and full Senate passed the measure on June 22, 38-0.