Bill to Make it Easier for Veterans to Access Health Services Clears Legislature : News Room : The Van Drew Team for Change : Jeff Van Drew, Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land
Bill to Make it Easier for Veterans to Access Health Services Clears Legislature
TRENTON – Legislation Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo and Bob Andrzejczak sponsored to help New Jersey veterans access much-needed health services was approved 64-0 Dec. 3 by the Assembly, giving it final legislative approval.
The bill (A-3749) requires the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs to establish a program for travel to medical counseling appointments for service-connected conditions approved by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Counseling programs are vital for many of our veterans, who sacrificed so much serving our country,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Unfortunately, getting to these programs can prove difficult for many veterans, so the least we can do is create a program to ensure they can travel to attend these programs.”
“Having programs for our veterans is important, but our veterans need to be able to travel to them for them to be of value, which can be a difficult task for many,” said Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland), who is a disabled U.S. Army veteran wounded in Iraq. “If we truly want to help veterans, we need to ensure they can take full advantage of the programs there to help them, so that’s the goal of this bill.”
Under the bill, the program would reimburse qualified veterans who pay for their own travel costs for public transportation or for using a private vehicle. The reimbursement for the use of a private vehicle would be on a per mile basis. The reimbursement would be made if state or federal funds are available. The bill specifies that a veteran would not be reimbursed for any travel cost paid by an existing state or federal program, or for using a for-hire transportation service unless the veteran needs the service due to a federally-certified service-connected injury or disability that prevents the veteran from operating a private vehicle.
The department must also develop a system to monitor such reimbursements.
The bill requires the department to develop the program in cooperation with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
The bill also requires NJ Transit to provide proof of travel to a qualified veteran so the veteran could get reimbursed for the travel.
The measure now goes to the governor.