6 N.J. bills that would significantly benefit veterans' lives statewide

The New Jersey Legislature introduced a number of veterans affairs bills this year. Though still pending further legislative action, these measures would significantly benefits veterans and members of the military throughout the state.

Here is a rundown of just some of the bills the legislature has introduced:

1. Allowing post-traumatic stress disorder from military service during combat to be a potential mitigating factor during sentencing by the courts

Introduced in January, the measure would authorize courts throughout the state to add post-traumatic stress as a potential mitigating factor when considering sentencing for a military service member charged with a crime, according to the legislation on the state's website.

The bill is pending review by the state Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

2. Establishing a "Veterans Court Pilot Program”

The bill would give veterans, statewide, accused of nonviolent crimes, the opportunity to get treatment instead of being sent to jail.

The legislation was introduced in January and now awaits review by the state Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

3. Establishing a task force to study issues facing members of the military returning from war

Introduced on June 9, the legislation would authorize a task force — made up of officials from various state departments — to examine data pertaining to the military service's emotional and mental impact on members of the military. The task force would then recommend measures it feels the state should take to address military members returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the bill.

The bill is pending review by the state Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

4. Allowing members of the military to qualify for the resident tuition rate at county colleges, regardless of actual residency

Introduced on Dec. 11, military members with out-of-county or out-of-state addresses would qualify for the resident tuition rate at county colleges, which, according to the bill, tends to be "significantly lower than the nonresident tuition rate."

The measure was recently approved by the Assembly and now awaits Senate consideration.

"This is going to be a really good bill once it goes all the way through," said Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak (D-1), who serves as chair of the Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee. "It is going to be great for veterans coming back ... they are going to greatly benefit and further their education so when they finally do get out of the military, it is going to make transitioning a lot easier for them."

5. Providing surviving spouses and children of military personnel killed while serving, free college tuition

Introduced on Jan. 16, the bill would authorize the state to provide free undergraduate college tuition to any resident of New Jersey who is the surviving child or spouse of a member of the military killed during military service to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, Rowan University, or a county college, according to the legislation.

The bill is pending review by the state Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

6. Allowing municipalities to provide free or reduced fee beach badges to fully disabled veterans

The legislation, introduced in January and signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie at the beginning of this past summer, authorizes municipalities, by ordinance, to "provide fully disabled veterans with free or reduced fee access to beach and bathing and recreational grounds," according to the bill.

Andrzejczak said: "The good thing about the veteran bills, there is always a lot of support for them. The only difficult part is financially. I have no doubt the bills will go through, but where the state is financially, the only question is when."

 

Original Article

TROY SINGLETON
ASSEMBLYMAN, 7TH DISTRICT
400 NORTH CHURCH STREET, SUITE 260
MOORESTOWN, NJ 08057
 
Tel: 856-234-2790
Fax: 856-234-2957
Email: AsmSingleton@njleg.org