About NJ Veteran Journal:
The New Jersey Veteran Journal is an official publication of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is intended to serve New Jersey's veterans, their families, friends and concerned individuals and groups. All correspondence should be sent to:
Veteran Journal Editor, NJDMAVA/PA, PO Box 340,
Trenton, NJ 08625-0340
CVFW releases Legislative ScorecardBy Al Bucchi, VFW, Department of New Jersey
TRENTON--With the gold dome of the Statehouse as a backdrop, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Department of New Jersey, presented its Legislative Scorecard at the World War II Memorial. Overall, the Assembly worked harder on behalf of the more than half million Garden State veterans than the upper house of the Legislature according to the scorecard.
During the 2008-2009 legislative sessions, the VFW tracked the progress on numerous bills dealing with veterans and military affairs as they were introduced, referred to committee, and sent to the fl oor of their respective chambers and voted on accordingly.
"Our biggest concern was the amount of Veteran and Military bills that came up for vote in the Assembly as compared to the Senate," said Commander Jack Shiverdaker. "The Assembly moves Veteran Bills at a 2.5 to 1 ratio, which leads us to give an overall score of A for the General Assembly and C- for the State Senate."
Shiverdaker and VFW Legislative Director Al Bucchi indicated that this has been the scenario in the past two legislative sessions. The Assembly works hard to pass important Veteran legislation only to have the bill stall or die in the State Senate.
One bill in particular has caused the VFW and other Veteran Service Organizations much frustration. A high priority of the Veteran Service Organizations is to expand Veteran Status in New Jersey. Currently not all veterans are recognized using the same criteria as the Federal Government for such benefi ts as Civil Service Preference.
In New Jersey a veteran must have served at least 14 days in a combat area, such as Iraq, to be classifi ed as a Veteran, leaving many without State Civil Service Preference.
"We have tried to address this with legislation that would give those who are not recognized as veterans in New Jersey but recognized by the Federal Government 5 points toward a passing grade and a disabled veteran 10 points toward a passing grade," Bucchi said adding that the problem in New Jersey is that the State Constitution does not recognize a disabled veteran the same way the Federal Government does (Veteran Affairs defi nition).
This rule does not allow many disabled vets in New Jersey to qualify for State Civil Service and other benefi ts. A Concurrent Resolution to change the State Constitution has died twice in the State Senate after passing easily in the Assembly.
Shiverdaker believes the establishment of a stand-alone Military and Veterans Affairs Committee in the Senate much like the Assembly Committee Chaired by Assemblyman Jack Conners, is necessary to advance veterans issues. Currently Veteran Bills in the State Senate are either sent to the Law and Public Safety and Veterans' Affairs Committee and various other committees.
The VFW is urging the President of the State Senate to form a stand-alone Military and Veterans Affairs Committee for the next session in an effort to pass more veteran legislation.
|(c) 2009 - NJ Department of Military & Veterans Affairs|