Bills Come After Special Joint Hearing on Issues Facing Women Veterans
(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Cleopatra Tucker, Troy Singleton and Raj Mukherji sponsored to help New Jersey’s veterans – especially women veterans – obtain the help and services they need was released Wednesday by an Assembly panel.
The Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee chaired by Tucker released the bills after a joint hearing with the Assembly Women and Children Committee chaired by Lampitt on issues facing women veterans.
Under A-3749, sponsored by Lampitt, Mazzeo, Andrzejczak and Mukherji, the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs is to establish a program to provide assistance to qualified veterans in in-patient and out-patient treatment programs to travel to attend counseling programs within this state.
“Many veterans are unable to take advantage of helpful treatment programs in New Jersey because of the difficulty in arranging transportation,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This bill will promote transportation assistance to veterans in order to ensure our veterans have the access to quality care they deserve.”
“Counseling programs are vital for many of our veterans, who sacrificed so much serving our country,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Unfortunately, getting to these programs can prove difficult for many veterans, so the least we can do is create a program to ensure they can travel to attend these programs.”
“Having programs for our veterans is important, but our veterans need to be able to travel to them for them to be of value, which can be a difficult task for many,” said Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland), who is a disabled U.S. Army veteran wounded in Iraq. “If we truly want to help veterans, we need to ensure they can take full advantage of the programs there to help them, so that’s the goal of this bill.”
“Making sure our veterans can get to the programs they need is basic common sense,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson), who served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. “Veterans in treatment programs who need counseling programs deserve basic services, especially when it can be easily accomplished.”
Under the bill, the department would:
· Develop, in cooperation with NJ Transit, a program to provide assistance to qualified veterans to travel to and from counseling within the state using any motorbus or rail passenger service conducted by the corporation, whenever possible, without charge or the payment of a fee by the veteran;
· Develop, in coordination with NJ Transit, a form of identification that permits a qualified veteran to be identified as a participant in the program established by this section; and
· Notify the general public and eligible veterans that the program established by this section is available to qualified veterans.
The bill also directs NJ Transit to cooperate with the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs to effectuate the program.
Meanwhile, A-3750, sponsored by Lampitt, Tucker, Andrzejczak and Singleton, would require the Adjutant General to create a public webpage with information specifically for female veterans.
“We know that dedicated programs and information to assist female veterans returning from service can prove extraordinarily helpful in helping female veterans transition to civilian life,” Lampitt said. “This legislation ensures that this information to benefit female veterans is easy to find and provides one stop for all the essential information they need.”
“The webpage must include, but is not limited to, veterans’ legal rights, benefits, medical and insurance issues, education and the transition from active service to civilian life,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “This web site should be easily accomplished and would surely prove immensely helpful to women veterans.”
“We should make it as easy as possible for veterans to get the help and services they need,” Andrzejczak said. “We all need to support ways to make it easier for veterans to transition to civilian life.”
“A webpage for female veterans would be a comprehensive source of information so that female veterans may be informed of the rights of veterans and the resources available to veterans without having to gather such information in a piecemeal fashion,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Creating a one-step web site for women veterans makes common sense and would go a long way to ensuring they get the help they need.”