Governor Jerry Brown signed a wide-ranging set of bipartisan bills that improve services and opportunities for veterans across the state on September 20.
Totaling 14 bills, the legislative package includes assembly and senate bills that cover issues related to education, housing, and support for those who have served.
One of the bills geared toward education was drafted by Hayward assemblymember Mary Hayashi. AB 2478 “Expands the current exemption given to veterans from paying non-resident tuition at California Community Colleges (CCC) by one year…”
Previously, when returning from service, veterans were allowed only one year to pay lower, resident fees at CCC campuses. Now, they will have two years.
Ross Warren, the chief consultant to the standing assembly committee of business, professions and consumer protection, says this time is important in aiding veterans in transitioning to civilian life.
“They may need to go home for a while, wrap up whatever things that are going on in their lives, and then return to California, and we wanted to give them an opportunity to do that.”
Warren says these are the same opportunities and benefits that others may have, without facing the challenges that may be facing a veteran retuning home.”
In general, Warren feels the package is part of a national effort to support returning veterans, and that California has been responsive.
John Duarte, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of San Leandro, says he is always in favor of benefits and opportunities for veterans, and likes what the package of legislation represents.
He thinks California veterans have a good amount of services available to them, but they need to be more cognizant of them.
Duarte says he comes across veterans frequently “…who are totally, kind of in a bubble, they have no concept of veterans benefits and help they need, in whatever situation they are in.”
“Whatever the situation is, the help is there, they just have to make an effort.”
SB 1198 addresses some outreach issues, as Duarte says that is an area that can always be improved. It requires California Department of Veteran’s Affairs to provide veterans with information about federal veteran pensions, and federal housing vouchers, among other services.
In a statement from the Governor’s office, Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, California National Guard Adjutant General said “This comprehensive package of legislation signed by Governor Brown continues to demonstrate that California is fulfilling its obligation to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much.”
This entry was published in The Pioneer Online on Thursday, September 27th, 2012 at 5:29 pm.