Local legislators support bills to help veterans


State representatives Whit Betts, left, and Cara Pavalock.

State representatives Whit Betts, left, and Cara Pavalock.

State representatives Whit Betts (R-78) and Cara Pavalock (R-77) joined their colleagues in the House of Representatives in unanimously passing bills aimed at improving the lives of veterans in Connecticut as they transition from service into civilian life.

Reps. Betts and Pavalock co-sponsored legislation establishing a Connecticut Women Veterans’ Program. The bill, S.B. 904, requires the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs to establish a program that will reach out to women veterans in an effort to improve their awareness of federal and state veterans’ benefits and services eligibility, according to a press release from House Republicans. It also calls for an assessment of women veterans’ needs for benefits and services and a review of programs, research projects and other initiatives designed to address or meet Connecticut women veterans’ needs.

“It is so important that we do all we can to support our veterans returning home from military service. In particular, I’m pleased to see the acknowledgement of women’s issues in the transition of our female soldiers from the front lines to everyday life. Many of these women are mothers and primary caregivers, and the stress of reintegrating to a civilian life and routine can be difficult. I proudly co-sponsored and voted in support of this legislation,” said Pavalock in the press release.

During the public hearing on the bill, Gregory Smith, the State Commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars testified that passage of this bill is a critical step that Connecticut can take in providing needed outreach to women veterans, reported the GOP press release.

Betts and Pavalock praised passage of S.B. 694, which would create a statewide study to evaluate and assess OASIS programming, the press release reported. The study would identify successful programs and units of expertise, and apply them throughout Connecticut’s public colleges.

“Programs like OASIS give our veterans places in the community to gather together and socialize, along with access to resources and technology to assist them in their studies and academic careers. We have seen the success of this program at Tunxis Community College. Through this study, I hope that the successes identified in this program become implemented to aid our veterans statewide as they pursue their education,” said Betts, ranking member of the legislature’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement committee, in the press release

OASIS is part of an initiative started in 2008 by the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs to form Vet OASIS Centers at all of Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.

The bills have both passed unanimously out of the state Senate. S.B. 904 awaits signature by the Governor while S.B. 694 supporting OASIS programming is being prepared for signing.