Making Indiana great for veterans
Memorial Day is a time of reflection. Whether you spent the day with your family or relaxed outside, it is important to remember the reason for the holiday; those who wore the uniform and paid the ultimate price to defend our country and way of life.
After reflecting this Memorial Day and with a brother currently serving in the military, I am constantly reminded how important veterans are to this nation. Every freedom we enjoy today is a result of their selfless sacrifices. I am proud to say that the General Assembly worked hard this session to pass new laws that support our veterans in areas like healthcare, jobs and quality of life to list a few.
Veterans and military members returning from deployment deserve access to proper mental health or medical treatment as well as information on the benefits they are eligible for. Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 180 addresses this by creating a Veterans Disability Clinic Fund which will provide grants to qualified law schools that maintain a veteran’s disability clinic. By doing so, veterans can visit these clinics, receive assistance on how to navigate and obtain their benefits.
SEA 180 also creates a study, conducted by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), to review implementing a program to treat veterans who have a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The ISDH will consult with the Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Division of Mental Health and Addiction to report their findings to members of the General Assembly.
Addressing the health of veterans was not our only focus for our military members. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1242, which I co-authored, tackled Indiana’s veteran unemployment rate. This legislation makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against a prospective employment based on their status as a veteran.
Making sure our military men and women understand their rights as a prospective employee is essential, which is why HEA 1242 requires the Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs to disseminate information informing Hoosier veterans of this law. The Indiana Civil Rights Commission is charged with enforcing the new law.
To improve the quality of life for veterans, SEA 352 removes the three year limit from the Military Family Relief Fund (MFRF) so that qualified service members or dependents may receive extended assistance from the fund. Grants from the MFRF can be used by military families for needs such as food, housing, medical services and more. By lifting the three year cap, more veterans can access these funds and needed support.
These are just a few examples of the laws we passed that support Hoosier veterans, and we will continue our work to make additional improvements by studying issues like education and compensation that affect veterans this summer. Ultimately, the Indiana General Assembly is dedicated to those who have served our country, and I look forward to discovering new ways to make Indiana a better place for veterans to live, work and raise a family.
Rep. Ober represents all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.