Bill package would benefit veterans

Chris Sainato

State Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, joined fellow lawmakers Wednesday at Soldiers’ Grove to highlight a package of bills that would improve services for the commonwealth’s large veteran community.

Sainato, Democratic chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said the bipartisan bill package, “For Those Who Served,” would expand state resources and make life easier for veterans and their families.

“The package includes my bill to supplement the Veterans’ Trust Fund with $1 million from the billions Pennsylvania is receiving under the American Rescue Plan,” Sainato said. “As Democratic chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, I have seen firsthand how grants from the fund can provide veterans in need with transportation, housing and other essential services. Tapping into this federal funding is a unique opportunity that would directly benefit those who have served and sacrificed so much for us.

“Our committee worked together, in true bipartisan fashion, to approve these bills for the benefit of our heroes, and I’m hopeful we’ll see them soon passed and signed into law.”

Sainato said some of the bills include:

•H.B. 1389, which would strengthen the Veterans Trust Fund by supplementing it with $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

•H.B. 1427, which would provide $1 million in ARP funding for the Veteran Service Officer Grant Program, which assists veterans in obtaining their federal VA pensions and benefits.

•H.B. 941, which would ensure military families are guaranteed the in-state tuition rate as soon as a student enrolls or registers at a community college or submits an enrollment deposit to a four-year public college or university, even if their military parent is later reassigned to another state.

•H.B. 1220, which would increase payments from the Blind Veterans and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans pension programs from $150 to $200 per month.

•H.B. 1055, which would protect access to a veterans’ discharge papers stored at a county recorder of deeds office by extending the time a person can access the records from 75 years to 85 years.

Some additional bills in the package, Sainato said, would establish a Veterans’ Outreach and Support Network; encourage Congress to pass legislation to improve treatment for post-traumatic stress; help ensure family members of a deceased veteran have timely information about burial benefits; and designate a portion of U.S. Route 20 as the Pennsylvania Medal of Honor Highway, among other measures.

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