A rally cry for veterans in the 2015 legislative session [Journal Inquirer]

April 15, 2015

Article as it appeared in the Journal Inquirer

By State Senator Tony Guglielmo

Let me start by thanking veterans for your service to our nation. It’s because of your selfless and honorable sacrifice that we continue to enjoy freedoms that make this the greatest country in the world.

I was appalled to learn that Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed budget call for a cut to the Connecticut Honor Guard. State funds are currently used to support military honors at funerals. Those honors include the playing of “Taps” and rifle teams which discharge graveside salutes.

To cut this program is disrespectful to our veterans. They deserve to be honored and given every possible tribute at their time of passing.

I’m deeply saddened that the administration would actually suggest such a cut. This funding should be restored. The legislature will be debating this and other proposed cuts by the governor until a final budget is decided upon.

A rally is scheduled at noon on Wednesday, April 15, at the state Capitol in Hartford for anyone who wants to show support for saving the Connecticut honor guard.

I also would like to share some of the more than two dozen bills voted on and passed out of the Veterans Affairs Committee. These bills will be considered as the session continues.

HB-5110 — An act concerning a Veterans Day observance at the Rocky Hill Veterans Home. This bill would require the commissioner of Veterans’ Affairs to hold suitable exercises in the Veterans Home annually on Nov. 11 to recognize resident veterans for their military service.

HB-5334 — An act providing property tax relief to veterans. This measure will provide that 10 percent of the value of any property belonging to a veteran of the armed forces, who served in time of war, is exempt from taxation.

HB-6378 — An act providing veterans preferences in the rental assistance program and housing authority projects. This bill would give preference in affordable or subsidized housing admission — as determined by the commissioner of housing — to veterans meeting the federal veterans preference requirements.

HB-6383 — An act concerning medical costs of certain veteran amputees. This would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover the cost of medical services or equipment relating to the loss in service of an arm or leg when such costs are not covered by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

HB-6391 — An act increasing mental health services for veterans and members of the armed forces. This will allow for a study of the Connecticut Military Support Program within the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to determine whether there is a need to expand state-provided mental health services for members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families.

SB-522 — An act concerning prescription drugs administered by nursing homes to veterans. This will strike from an existing law that nursing homes or residential care homes may require prescription drugs obtained through a prescription drug program or health plan offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs be dispensed and administered according to each facility’s or home’s policies. These policies, in certain situations, preclude veterans from being able to use medications obtained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

SB-691 — An act establishing a veterans crisis line. This will help prevent suicides amongst the veteran community by establishing a suicide crisis line specifically for veterans.

SB-904 — An act establishing the Women’s HUSKY Veterans Program. This measure would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a program to conduct outreach to women veterans for the purpose of improving awareness of eligibility for federal and state veterans benefits and services, and to review programs, research projects, and other initiatives available to women veterans.

Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, is the state senator representing the 35th District. Guglielmo served in the U.S. Army stateside from 1962 to 1968.