Indiana finally investing into Veterans
The 2017 Indiana General Assembly heard a great message: “Hoosier Veterans are the best investment that Indiana can make.” And, they are listening. On March 30th, the Indiana Senate revealed their budget bill in the Appropriations Committee. The proposal is very favorable to Hoosier veterans in that it funds a State Homeless Veteran Program with 500,000, a pilot program for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD with 500,000, funds six regional Veteran Service Officers with 300,000 and increases the grants the Big Four receives for our Power of Attorney representation our Service Officers provide throughout Indiana; an increase from 220,000 to 800,000. This is a biennial budget so AMVETS will receive an increase from 30,000 to 100,000 annually. AMVETS has a great opportunity to use this money to help veterans and their spouses receive their earned benefits and demonstrate the AMVETS mission. Along with that funding, an increase will also be seen for veteran treatment courts as we work to have at least one veteran treatment court in each judicial jurisdiction in Indiana. There was support for our Guard and Reserves as expedited professional licenses and preferences for job and training programs for military spouses passed this session. An update to the Veteran Identifier on our Indiana driver’s license is coming. The intent is to make it easier to get the identifier, make it available for on-line renewals, and give access to the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs the demographic information of where our Hoosier veterans are and have that information shared only with our County Veteran Service Officers. There is much work to do, but with the help of legislators and a unified voice for veterans, progress materialized this session.
2017 Military Veterans Day, Indiana State House
Another successful demonstration of the unified veteran voice in Indiana on display started with a March from Military Park to the Indiana State House, led by the Indiana National Guard Band. The day was filled with legislators hearing from their constituents about what they want in legislation and funding for Hoosier veterans. The program included, Governor Eric Holcomb, AMVETS Indiana State Commander, Randy Rouse, and AMVETS Legislative Director, Lisa Wilken. Not only did AMVETS participate in the planning and funding of the day which provided lunch to the Hoosier veterans and their families who attended, but AMVETS had an information booth where volunteers gave out information and answered questions about what AMVETS does and why being a member is a benefit. A special thank you to Post 99 for the table set up and swag and to the volunteers, 1st Vice, Kenny Burton, 2nd Vice, Roger Williams, and the Indiana Son’s of AMVETS Commander, Mike McDarrah. Indiana AMVETS demonstrating veterans serving veterans!
Call to Action: Contact our Legislators for Veterans
The Indiana Legion calls our veterans to action after the incendiary remarks from State Sen. Ron Alting quoted in the Evansville Courier and Indianapolis Star on Friday, March 3, advising the veterans community to not, “let greed overrun you” and to “accept what we can get” after the Indiana Senate nixed plans for a lottery ticket to benefit homeless veterans and other veteran related programs. The lottery ticket could potentially generate millions annually for the Hoosier veterans community. Instead, Senate Bill 517 verbiage was changed to earmark $500,000 annually to Indiana veterans and passed the Senate to move to the House next week. Now, we call on our Hoosier Legionnaires to tell our elected officials that our veterans are worth more! Follow the link below to the Department website to use a newly integrated tool that automatically generates personalized emails to your local senators and representatives based on your location. We ask that you spread the word regarding these issues, and share this new tool to make direct contact with our elected officials on these veterans related, legislative issues.
- See the story published by Indianapolis NBC affiliate Channel 13 News: http://www.wthr.com/article/american-legion-pushes-for-veteran-funding-at-the-statehouse
As of February 24, 2017
- 59 – Reciprocity in professional licensing. Passed 48-0 Referred to House
- 245 – Long Term Small Loans. Committee hearing Feb 16 – Defeated
- 307 – Veteran preference for employment and training. Passed 47-1 Referred to House
- 351 – Disability parking placard. Passed 50-0 Referred to House
- 515 – Tax Administration. Floor vote Feb 27.
- 517 – Distribution of lottery revenues. 2nd reading Feb 27
- 1001 – Biennial Budget. Floor vote Feb 27
- 1308 – Various professional licensing matter. Passed House 95-0 Referred to Senate
- 1324 – Activation of state employee. Passed House 97-0 Referred to Senate
- 1396 – Teacher licensing for military spouses. Passed House 95-0 Referred to Senate
- HCR 12 – Conductor trainee Program for Veterans. Passed House 93-0 Referred to Senate