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HERO Act veterans benefits and services bill will go before full state Senate

Boston Herald - 6/10/2024

The state Senate will vote this week on their version of a veterans benefits bill first offered by Gov. Maura Healey late last year, and which lawmakers say is the first significant piece of veterans legislation considered in decades, the upper chamber’s top lawmakers announced on Monday.

An Act Honoring, Empowering and Recognizing Our Service Members and Veterans, or the HERO Act, offers both increased benefits for veterans and aims to modernize state veteran’s services.

“The Senate’s action re-affirms the Commonwealth’s commitment to serving all service members and their families. This legislation will positively impact hundreds of thousands of veterans living in Massachusetts, including nearly 30,000 women veterans and thousands of LGBTQ+ veterans,” Senate Ways and Means staff said in announcing the pending vote.

The bill’s provisions, according to Senate staffers, “closely mirror” those found in Healey’s January offering.

The Senate would add a provision allowing a gold star widow to remarry and keep their benefits, which under current law they would lose. It includes another that would require school districts to offer support services to families of deployed service members, and would create a “military spouse liaison to help military spouses with obtaining employment and childcare, and deal with other issues facing military spouses.”

The act, which passed unanimously through the House on May 22, will go before the full state Senate on Thursday, with amendments due Tuesday by 5 p.m.

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