Chapter 115 of the Massachusetts General laws dates back to 1861 and the Civil War, and to related laws and regulations which established the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services to oversee state mandated municipal departments of veterans' services tasked with providing benefits to Massachusetts Veterans in need.
Nearly 25% of the residents of Mendon are veterans or dependents of veterans.
Originally, the law referred to "veterans' agents," or where there were Districts formed, "directors of veterans' services." In 2001 the Massachusetts State Legislature changed the designation from Veterans' Agent to Veterans' Services Officers (or VSO's.) The responsibility of the VSO is to fairly assist veterans in receiving benefits to which they may be entitled.
Throughout the years from the end of World War II in 1945 to the end of the first war in Iraq (Desert Storm,) most of our participating veterans were those who had endured severe disabilities, or were in need of public assistance. These veterans seldom sought the services of the local veterans' agent, even though they were in need of help. Since that era, a younger generation of veterans has come forward, fueled by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, many benefits have been authorized by the legislature which provide for honoring and recognition of the veteran's service. One example of such a change is a recently passed law which provided the opportunity of a veteran to have the word "Veteran" placed on his motor vehicle liscense. This provision is designed to recognize the individual's past service, but it also coincides with and facilitates other laws modifying the judicial system, and helps in determining the outcome of decisions made in certain jurisdictions where a court of law can defer incarceration under the Jail Diversion Program and provide help for individuals who may need mental health treatment or other support. It also may help the veteran in other more-critical facets of life such as suicide prevention.
- There are two state owned and operated cemeteries providing an inexpensive option for veterans, and their spouse after death.
- Mandated training of all Veterans' Services Officers, providing expertise and fairness in accessing benefits for veterans and dependents, where qualified.
- Improved real estate tax abatement for certain disabled veterans and a tax abatement program for veteran volunteers providing community service in participating towns.
- Granting surviving spouses of certain disabled veterans the same real estate tax abatement that the Veteran received while alive.
- Increased amount of state-funded annuities to $2000 for 100% disabled veterans.
- Peace-time veterans are entitled to Chapter 115 benefits under Massachusetts General Law.
- An established and funded a woman veteran's outreach program.
- Welcome home bonuses provided and expanded under Chapter 130, Acts of 2005, for deployed veterans (including members of the Massachusetts National Guard who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan,) of $1,000.00 and $500.00, depending upon whether deployed overseas or not.
- Compilation of all veterans of all wars.
- Established a web site providing information regarding benefits available under state law.
|Robin Fletcher||Director of Veteran's Services||(508) 473-8461|