CHARLESTON - The House Veterans Affairs committee, chaired by Delegate Richard Iaquinta, moved through the second week of the 80th Legislative Session by reporting out three bills reviewed during the Legislative Interim meetings over this past year.
“We have worked hard over the past few months to further assist West Virginia’s veterans.” Chairman Iaquinta stated. “These great men and women have made a great sacrifice for not only West Virginia, but the entire country, and for that we need to ensure that the issues they face when returning home are tackled head on. “
During the legislative interim period, the Select Committee on Veterans Affairs met with a number of top level state and federal officials to review the many needs of each veteran. At one of those meetings, Julie Gifford, Mid-Atlantic State Liaison for the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, shared with the committee the results of the 2010 Status Report for West Virginia on the Department of Defense’s Ten Key Quality of Life Issues for Service Members and Families. As part of this status report, a number of issues were presented as reflecting some difficulty to active service members, veterans, and their families.
Of the issues addressed during the interim period found in the Department of Defense report, the committee has already had under its consideration legislation related to the eligibility of unemployment benefits for spouses of transferred military service members, the disposition of remains of active duty military service members, and the further establishment of Veteran Friendly Communities.
Specifically, the establishment of Veteran Friendly Communities will require the state’s Division of Veterans Affairs to establish a program to assist and encourage the development, availability and utilization of veteran friendly services, benefits and assistance available to veterans within the community.
“This program is important to enhance the availability of resources within the community for veterans and their families,” Iaquinta said.
The committee further plans to address other issues found in the Department of Defense report, including issues related to the educational opportunities for military children and the assurance that every veteran receives quality healthcare.
“What we do each week will have a lasting positive effect on the veterans of our state,” said Iaquinta “Every veteran must continue to live their lives with dignity and with the support of not only our state government, but also every member of the community in which they live.”