Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Vince Mazzeo, Bob Andrzejczak and Raj Mukherji sponsored to help New Jersey veterans access much-needed health services was approved 74-0 by the full Assembly on Monday.
Under the bill (A-3749), 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.
The bill now awaits final legislative approval by the full Senate.