BOSTON – On May 3, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in unanimously passing “The BRAVE Act” – new legislation that will expand benefits and increase access to a range of services for veterans, active-duty military and their families.
Understanding the sacrifice that military personnel and their families make not only while on active duty, but also after returning home, the Massachusetts Legislature has consistently provided a continuum of major veteran legislation to help with those who sacrifice the most for our freedoms.
“We owe an enormous debt to the individuals who have sacrificed their personal ambitions and dreams to protect our country,” said Senator Friedman, Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service. “This bill reaffirms our commitment to providing the utmost support to our veterans, service members, and military families and strengthens existing law to ensure that they have access to the services and benefits that they need to thrive in their communities.”
The bill, S.2454, designates the fifth day of April as Gold Star Wives Day and the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mothers and Families Day and directs cities and towns to designate reserved parking for veterans at all city and town halls.
The bill also grants paid military leave for those called to duty by the armed forces for up to 40 days for training and operation purposes.
To help ease the costs of housing, the legislation eases the eligibility requirement for veterans to receive property tax exemptions. Under the bill, veterans would be eligible for tax relief after residing in the Commonwealth for two years, instead of the five year requirement in current law. The legislation also increases the amount a veteran can earn on their property tax exemption for volunteering in their city or town.
In addition, the BRAVE Act increases the burial expense paid by the Commonwealth from $2,000 to $4,000 for indigent veterans to ensure a dignified funeral for all those that serve. It also exempts any veterans who receive annuities for service to their country from income calculations when applying for state programs or services.
Other provisions of the bill include:
- Addressing emergency medical transportation reimbursements;
- Revising veteran court diversion programs; and
- Updating the veteran bonus program at the State Treasurer’s Office.
The BRAVE Act is the Senate’s latest effort to support veterans, military members and their families.
The final bill, S.2632, was signed into law on August 9, 2018.