State Sen. Jason Welch: Looking out for our veterans

April 9, 2013

Several proposed bills making their way through the Legislature could give local veterans an opportunity to receive their high school diploma, attend college for less and visit with their children when they return from active duty undeterred by academic rules.

Last week, the General Assembly moved several bills forward that would expand the existing Connecticut statutes to include the following three pieces of legislation:

S.B. No. 386 An Act Concerning Honorary Diplomas For Vietnam Veterans.

Currently, a local or regional board of education may award a diploma to a veteran of World War II or the Korean War if they left high school prior to graduation in order to serve in the armed forces of the United States.

The one conflict this law currently does not apply to is Vietnam.

Many service men and women during that era did not receive a diploma as a consequence of their service during that time. This legislation would include them.

S.B. No. 935 An Act Concerning Excused Absences From School For Children Of Service Members.

This legislation would enable a student to have ten days of excused absences.

The student whose parent or legal guardian is an active duty member of the military and on leave or returned from can visit with their parent of legal guardian.

These absences would have to be approved by the local superintendent of education. The student and parent or legal guardian would be responsible for getting assignments from teachers prior to any period of excused absence granted.

Parents and guardians must also make sure the assignments are completed by the student prior to his or her return to school.

An Act Concerning Fee Waivers For Educational Extension Programs And Summer School Sessions For Wartime Veterans And Members Of The Connecticut National Guard.

This bill would waive the payment of tuition and extension fees for wartime veterans and active members of the Connecticut National Guard who attend an educational extension program or summer session at a regional community-technical college, the Connecticut State University System or The University of Connecticut.

If any person who receives a tuition or extension fee waiver also receives educational reimbursement from an employer, the waiver would be reduced by the amount of the educational reimbursement.

All of these ideas were voted out of the Veterans Committee and are making their way to a vote by the full General Assembly.

It is our obligation to look out for those who serve their country.

I have served in both the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and Army National Guard.

I am keenly aware of how hard it is for some of our service members to transition back to civilian life, or for them to continue active duty while worrying about loved ones at home.

I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of veterans. I have also dedicated a section of my senate website to Veterans Affairs.

Please visit it at, and click on the Veterans Corner. I also can be reached at [email protected] or at 800-842-1421 if you would like to share your ideas or concerns.

Sen. Welch represents the 31st district towns of Thomaston, Plainville, Plymouth, Bristol and Harwinton.