Brendan Fitzpatrick

November 15, 2023

Healey Files for Increased Veteran Benefits

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BOSTON - Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey recently unveiled legislation aimed at boosting resources and benefits for veterans of the armed forces within the state.

“An Act Honoring, Empowering and Recognizing Our Servicemembers and Veterans”—dubbed the HERO Act—proposes measures such as expansions to behavioral health treatment for veterans by offering reimbursements for outpatient behavioral health centers, providing boosts to businesses that hire veterans via tax credits, and increasing benefits for veterans who are disabled through a $500 increase to the Disabled Veteran Annuity.

"Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and this transformative legislation marks an important step toward ensuring that Massachusetts supports them in return,” Healey said in a statement.

Healey’s package also features a plan to initiate a pilot program that would offer IVF reimbursement for LGBTQ+ couples initially denied benefits by the Veterans Health Administration. In addition, it would expand the scope of the Veterans Equality Review Board to go beyond discharges stemming from the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding non-heterosexual people—which was in effect from 1994 to 2011.

The legislation looks to broaden the actual Chapter 115 definition of veteran as well, in order to be more in line with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ definition. Proponents say this would ensure that more veterans would be eligible for state benefits including annuity and the Veterans’ Homes program.

These developments come as the City of Framingham is seeking applicants for their Veterans Council. Comprised of seven members, the council’s mission is to review local veterans-related matters, such as memorials, government policies, and future goals and projects. Feedback from the group will be relayed back to Mayor Charlie Sisitsky. The deadline to apply is Friday, December 15. The application to join the Veterans Council can be found by clicking here.

To see the entire breakdown of the state legislation, click here.

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