LOS ANGELES – Kicking off Memorial Day Weekend today, California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) held a Veterans’ Resource Fair to connect California veterans and their families with benefits available to them because of their courageous service and sacrifice.
“Californians have a great responsibility to aid veterans and National Guard members and their families,” Pérez said. “At a time when our country is at war, veterans are returning home and are finding themselves without access to jobs, job training, affordable housing, and mental health support. This resource fair is part of California’s broader effort to fill gaps in the federal government’s support of these men and women who have sacrificed so much. In Sacramento, we’re promoting this effort by pushing state agencies and departments to provide better services to these brave Californians.”
The Veterans’ Resource Fair included representatives available to provide access to educational/vocational rehabilitation benefits such as VA/CAL-VET home loan guarantee programs, medical care, the State of California dependent college fee waiver program, benefits for surviving spouse and children, and many other related benefits.
In Sacramento, the California State Assembly continues to make a priority the needs of California’s over 2 million veterans and their families. This has included aggressive oversight of California’s state agencies and departments in regard to how well state government programs deliver services to veterans, in addition to the use of the legislative and budgetary oversight to address the needs of California’s veterans.
Highlights of this effort include:
- Implementing the findings and recommendations from a 2009 audit of the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CDVA) that confirmed that California state agencies and departments need to provide better services and programs to our veterans and National Guard;
- Addressing California’s low participation rate in federal veteran disability compensation and pension benefits, which harms our veterans and negatively affects the state’s economy;
- Directing the Department of Motor Vehicles to assist the CDVA in identifying veterans if they desire to be informed of their eligibility to collect these federal benefits.
- Promoting Veteran Employment and Job Training – Both the federal government and the State of California/Assembly have identified employment as a key issue for returning veterans. Some of the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) existing programs serving veterans include the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) and the Local Veterans Employment Representative (LVER), both administered and funded by the US Department of Labor.
- Encouraging the state to authorize the establishment of what are referred to as “Vet Courts,” which would permit superior courts to take into consideration and place into community treatment and supervison programs mentally ill offenders who are military veterans, including those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury (TBI), military sexual trauma, substance abuse, or any mental health problem stemming from military service, so long as it is feasible and consistent with public safety. Two separate, but complimentary measures have been introduced to support this concept (see below).
The Assembly has also held the following Oversight/Budget Hearings on Veterans Issues:
- Joint Hearing of the Assembly Veterans Affairs and Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy (JOBS) Committees (March 2nd) Examination of EDD’s administration of its veteran job training and employment programs and how they will be integrated with the Governor’s proposed Operation Welcome Home (OWH) veterans’ initiative.
- Joint Hearing of the Assembly Veteran Affairs and JOBS Committee (April 27) Examination of OWH and whether the design of the program is capable of delivering the stated outcomes. Also, how is the program integrated with existing veteran job training and employment programs?
- Assembly Budget Subcommittee #4 on CDVA &EDD (May 4th) Report from EDD and questions derived from previous hearing regarding the nine workforce development programs administered by EDD, how they will be integrated with OHW, and what are the current outcomes and are these programs integrated in anyway.
- Assembly Budget Subcommittee #5 (May 12) Requiring DMV to assist CDVA in identifying veterans who desire to be informed of their eligibility to collect veteran benefits.
Key 2010 Assembly Legislation for Veterans:
AB 1378 (V. Perez) – Would enact the Veterans Workforce Accountability Act, and is intended to serve as the primary vehicle to accommodate the statutory reforms needed to ensure the state’s veteran employment and job training programs are integrated and effectively performing.
AB 674 (Salas) – Would institute a series of changes designed to address the treatment of veterans convicted of criminal offenses as a result of post-traumatic stress-related disorders by establishing a deferred entry of judgment program and a pre-conviction drug diversion program for veterans who suffer from PTSD of TBI.
AB 1925 (Salas) – Would authorize superior courts to develop and implement veterans courts for eligible veterans of the U.S. Military.
AB 1569 (Veterans Affairs Committee) – Would create the California Interagency Council on Veterans Services and Programs.
AB 1729 (Yamada) – Extends, from six months to 12 months, the time that a veteran is eligible to receive preference points on civil service exams following the establishment of an employment list.
AB 2365 (Lieu) – This bill would prohibit the court from charging a service member any filing fee or court costs for a petition for relief from an obligation or liability incurred prior to the member's period of military service, or from a tax or assessment falling due prior to or during the period of service. This bill would also grant service members an expedited review of a certain petition for relief, which would potentially help resolve the dispute before the service member must ship out for deployment and becomes unavailable to participate in the action
AB 2455 (Nava) – Authorizes members of the military to defer payment on up to 2 loans on vehicles. This bill would also provide that a spouse or legal dependent, or both, of a member of the military is entitled to the deferral of payment benefits accorded to a member, if the member is eligible for those benefits.
AB 2455 (Nava) – Authorizes members of the military to defer payment on up to two loans on vehicles. This bill would also provide that a spouse or legal dependent, or both, of a member of the military is entitled to the deferral of payment benefits accorded to a member, if the member is eligible for those benefits.
AB 2783 (Veteran Affairs Committee) – Address and expands upon audit finding that the CDVA and Dept. of Consumer Affairs have ignored 1994-enacted law that requires state licensing boards to consult with CDVA to ensure that the education and training veterans obtain in the armed forces can be used to meet the licensure requirements for DCA regulated businesses, occupations and professions.
AB 2784 (Veterans Affairs Committee) – Address audit finding relative to CDVA strategic planning process by increasing size of Veteran Board to include member that have served in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom, adds requirement that one of the members have professional mental health experience, and requires CDVA to conduct a formal assessment of veterans needs relative to the development of its strategic plan and, in consultation with the board, develops measurable goals, objectives, and performance measures.
AB 2785 (Veteran Affairs Committee) – Addresses audit finding by annually directing CDVA to identify other state agencies and departments that offer or provide services to veterans, for the purpose of entering into formal agreements that specify the respective roles and activities of the entities.
CONTACT: Shannon Murphy (916) 319-2408
Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker