As Hoosiers, we understand how important it is to assist our veterans and create the best environment for them to succeed when they return home from service.
Early last year, president and CEO of the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation, Charles Haenlein, said that the state unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is 20 percent. This is unacceptably high. We must focus all our energies on decreasing this number by helping our service men and women attain meaningful, well-paying jobs. Supporting those who dedicated their lives to defend our freedoms is a top priority at the General Assembly.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Transportation and Veterans Affairs passed several pieces of legislation last week to help improve veterans' lives.
·Senate Bill 354 : Establishes the Hoosier Women Veterans Program to provide information and services specifically to Indiana's female veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 33,000 women veterans reside in Indiana.
·Senate Bill 352 : Extends the time period of eligibility for qualifying post-9/11 veterans to receive assistance from the Military Family Relief Fund. Last year, seven applicants were denied grants simply because they missed the deadline. These veterans lost out on $24,500 in additional grant money.
·Senate Bill 300 : Offers local government units incentives to hire disabled veterans.
To become law, these important bills must be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and then signed by Gov. Mike Pence.
Additionally, the Senate passed Senate Bill 135 , which increases the value cap for property tax deduction for qualified veterans. This bill could result in an estimated additional 3,900 deductions for completely disabled veterans. Freeing disabled veterans from taxes could greatly improve their quality of life and lessen the financial burden on them.
Our state is already ranked one of the most economically friendly states in the nation, and this piece of legislation would further improve not only the lives of Hoosier veterans, but also Indiana's fiscal climate.
After risking their lives to serve our nation, we wish to show Hoosier veterans our support and help them readjust to society. These legislative initiatives will provide veterans with needed resources to help them work, lead successful lives and raise families in our state.