By Senator Pat Browne
16th Senatorial District
Pennsylvania is home to more than 900,000 military veterans. Their tremendous service to our nation stands as a point of pride for our commonwealth. It takes a special person to be a soldier, a sailor, a Marine, a member of the Air Force or a member of the Coast Guard. How many people would want to or be able to face the threats and uncertainties that our service members have and still do on a daily basis?
We have an obligation to these brave men and women who have fought to keep our nation safe and free to ensure they have the necessary assistance and support when they return home from duty and adjust back into their everyday lives.
That is why I recently voted for a new law that will help generate additional dollars for support services for our veterans through private donations.
Act 194 of 2012 creates a new Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund (PVTF) to supplement state appropriations for veterans’ programs. The legislation provides additional dollars through voluntary donations to enhance current programs, services and benefits our state already offers, without asking taxpayers to contribute significant new funding.
Funding for the Trust will come from donations made via a voluntary check-off box on driver’s license renewals and vehicle registrations, proceeds from the sale of special license plates for veterans and other motorists who wish to honor their service, as well as other private donations. The Trust will fund a variety of programs, such as grants for veterans’ organizations, support for county veterans’ programs and housing assistance for veterans.
To ensure this proposal creates the greatest benefit for our veterans, the legislation also supports new partnerships between the state and a number of charities and veterans’ service organizations. It is important to note that money from the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund is not intended to replace existing government funding.
State, federal and county governments offer a number of helpful resources for our veterans, and it is important to ensure that all men and women who have served our country are aware of the benefits available to them. A list of helpful informational links is available on my website under the Resources/Links tab at http://senatorbrowne.com/veterans.htm. Additional information is also available by contacting the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs online at www.dmva.state.pa.us or calling toll-free 1-800-547-2838.
It is vital that our men and women in uniform know that they have our deepest gratitude and appreciation. This program allows us a way to show it.