HARRISBURG – The State Senate today unanimously approved legislation to improve outreach assistance and support programs for Pennsylvania’s large veteran population. Senate Bill 915 was sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), who serves as chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
“This legislation was drafted with input from many veterans’ groups and represents a tremendous starting point for providing more coordinated and proactive veterans’ outreach and services,” Baker said. “Our goal is to better manage the continuum of services across state, county, and independent programs, so that the men and women who have given so much to our country and Commonwealth, can receive the support they need to regain their mental, physical and economic health, to reconnect with themselves and their community and resume productive lives.”
Baker’s legislation will provide financial assistance to the Veterans Administration accredited service officer programs offered by nationally chartered veteran service organizations. These include the American Legion, AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, and the Disabled American Veterans.
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs will coordinate the program and work to enhance the availability of veterans’ assistance throughout the state, to measure performance and program outcomes, and most importantly, ensure the continual improvement of services to Pennsylvania’s veterans’ community.
“Historically, Pennsylvanians have answered the call to defend freedom in astounding numbers. Our Commonwealth is home to one of the largest veteran populations in the nation,” Baker said. “I believe we have an obligation to all veterans to ensure they have the care and resources they need to lead healthy, productive lives.”
Since August 1990, Pennsylvania has ranked fourth in the nation for the number of armed service members serving on active duty with at least one in four of today’s soldiers returning from combat seeking federal Veterans Administration compensation for service-connected injuries or illnesses.
“Given the complexity of the federal claims process, our large veterans community, and the demonstrated success of similar efforts, the need for a more effective veterans outreach program here in Pennsylvania is great,” Baker said. “I am pleased that this legislation received such tremendous support in the Senate.”
Senate Bill 915 now goes to the House of Representative for consideration.
Contact: Brian Grove