On Veterans Day 2009, Governor Patrick signed into law a range of new or increased benefits for veterans. One component is additional “welcome home” bonuses for soldiers completing multiple tours of duty. Until now, they received a bonus only upon returning home from the first tour.
A forward-thinking provision is to allow veterans to use some of the education and training they received in the military to count towards state requirements when seeking certain state permits or certifications.
The law also allows the state to be more proactive in preventing veteran homelessness, by working with vets before they become homeless and by providing more housing.
Perhaps one of the most important provisions is increased social support to returning veterans and their families. Spotting needs due to mental health issues or physical impairments – and many of both can go undetected for some time – is critical to keeping vets and the families caring for them from unraveling. I hope that the state makes some real advances in social services and can become a model for other states.