‘From the Capitol’ New Benefits for Veterans

August 12, 2011

Veterans across our country have sacrificed so much in order to protect their families and all Americans. In an effort to recognize their selflessness and courage, the state legislature and federal government have implemented several new laws and helpful resources.

Here in Connecticut, there is a new law – Public Act No. 11-68 – that grants the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) permission to place a special insignia on a veteran’s Connecticut driver’s license or identity card so that their status is properly and easily recognized. Beginning in January of 2013, veterans can submit an application to the state Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for this new symbol. Once the DVA verifies the status of a veteran, the application and information will be forwarded on to the DMV Commissioner for the addition of the veteran’s symbol. With it, veterans may use it to qualify for discounts at many retail stores, restaurants and businesses. And, as this is a state issued document, the symbol will help health professionals, law enforcement officers and/or employers identify the many services and programs available to veterans. So many veterans are unaware that they are eligible for programs like VA Heath Care or pension benefits, and this symbol will not only increase awareness, but will also verify eligibility.

Public Act. No. 11-68 also supports disabled wartime veterans by granting free nontransferable lifetime passes permitting admission, parking and boat access parking at any state park, forest or recreational facility. This same privilege is also available to Connecticut state residents who are sixty-five years of age or older. This portion of the bill is already effective, so qualified residents should apply now to make use of the state parks this summer! For more information about these passes, contact the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) – www.ct.gov/dep.

The federal government has also made an announcement that may benefit both veterans and their families. According to the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, unclaimed insurance funds are owed to certain current and former policyholders or their beneficiaries. This unclaimed money is owed to veterans that the federal Department of Veterans Affairs has been unable to locate. The insurance policies involved include: United States Government Life; National Service Life Insurance; Veterans Special Life Insurance; Veterans Reopened Insurance; and/or Service-Disabled Veterans Life.

This money represents millions of dollars in death awards, dividend checks and premium refunds that were mailed to veterans, only to be returned to the federal Department of Veterans Affairs by the Post Office because they could not be delivered. Some of these payments have been held for years. For more information about unclaimed funds, contact the federal Department of Veterans Affairs – www.va.gov.

I hope this information is useful to you and your family. As always, if you have questions about this, or any matter concerning state government, please contact my office.