Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bruce Land, Bob Andrzejczak, Eric Houghtaling, Vince Mazzeo and Joe Danielsen that would authorize a property tax exemption for totally disabled veterans, regardless of whether they served in a theater of war, was unanimously approved by the full Assembly on Thursday.
“A veteran who becomes completely disabled in the line of service has given up their freedom to protect the freedom of others,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), a former U.S. Army Sergeant who received two Bronze Stars and the Soldier’s Medal for his bravery in Vietnam. “Given the enormity of their sacrifices, it should not matter if their injuries were sustained in a theater of war. They deserve every assistance we can offer them.”
“Service in the name of one’s country, regardless of whether it’s technically in a theater of war, still presents inherent dangers,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), a former U.S. Army Sergeant who was wounded during a 2008 deployment in Iraq, resulting in the loss of his left leg. “Given the many conflicts our service members are engaged in overseas, putting their life on the line daily, this technicality should be irrelevant.”
Under current law, to be eligible for a 100 percent property tax exemption, a veteran must be 100 percent disabled as the result of their service in a theater of war or in a foreign country, on board a ship or naval vessel, or in foreign airspace.
This bill (A-3150) would authorize any veteran of military service in any branch of the armed forces of the United States who became 100 percent disabled as the result of that military service to receive a 100 percent property tax exemption, without a requirement that the disability be connected to service in a theater of war or in a foreign country, on board any ship or naval vessel, or in any foreign airspace.
“In the grand scheme of things, it’s very hard to ever repay a veteran for the grave sacrifices they make serving our country,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “But, at the very least, we should be doing all we can to offer assistance and make their lives easier upon their return home.”
“Our prolonged military presence overseas in the post-9/11 era has created a tremendous amount of risks for our servicemen and women resulting in life-threatening injuries that may not necessarily have occurred in a theater of war but still deserve our gratitude and assistance,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic).
“Our military members overseas face constant threats that, while not technically in a theater of war, still put them at risk for serious, permanent injuries. We need to honor their commitment to protecting our freedoms in every way possible,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset).
The bill also stipulates that for the purpose of eligibility for the property tax exemption, there shall be no minimum length of continuous or aggregate service required in any foreign country, on board any ship or naval vessel, or in any foreign airspace; and there shall be no requirement that the service-connected disability suffered by a veteran shall have occurred during any service in any foreign country, on board any ship or naval vessel, or in any foreign airspace.
The bill now awaits final legislative approval from the full Senate.