Honoring the Fallen:
On Monday May 31st we celebrate Memorial Day. A solemn time for our nation when we pause to reflect and honor the memory of those departed who have served our country in the uniforms of our armed forces. There is no greater honor than serving your country and we take the time to remember and celebrate those that have gave so much for our country. We spend this day remembering the soldiers through the centuries who have come together to fight for a common cause. They’ve defended America when our borders, our people, and our way of life have been threatened.
American soldiers continually demonstrate to the world the core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, sacrifice, honor, integrity, and patriotism. Their actions, their dedication, and their valor shine as an example for the next generation of veterans to carry on. Words can barely begin to express our thanks to all those who have served, those who are serving, and those are joining the ranks of our great military. Thank you for your sacrifice.
Tennessee has received high marks from veterans’ groups for legislation enacted to support service members and their families over the last several years. This year, the General Assembly passed legislation continuing these efforts.
Reemployment protections to Tennessee National Guard — Senate Bill 754 protects civilian reemployment rights for a Tennessee National Guard member upon completion of service in a State Active Duty. This provides members of the National Guard returning from State Active Duty the same right to reemployment afforded to service members called to federal active service, protecting them from discrimination in the workplace based on their military service.
STRONG Act / Tennessee National Guard – Senate Bill 755 expands eligibility to service members for a master’s degree and certificate-producing programs, under the Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen (STRONG) Act. It provides tuition reimbursement for up to 120 hours for a bachelor’s degree, 40 hours for a master’s degree and 24 hours for a vocational or technical program. The legislation also provides reimbursement for up to 30 additional hours for any service member enrolled in ROTC or other officer-producing programs while pursuing a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree.
Helping Heroes Grant — Senate Bill 1173 expands eligibility for the Helping Heroes Grant. It adds eligibility for any veteran who has earned a service expeditionary medal identified by rules and regulations created by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation.
Credit for Military Coursework and Training – Senate Bill 382 allows military veterans who are honorably discharged to be given credit for active duty training and coursework which is applicable towards occupational licensure.
PSYPACT / Military Families — Senate Bill 161 calls for Tennessee to join the Psychology Interjurisdiction Compact, or PSYPACT. Occupational licensure compacts provide consistent rules that allow licensed members and spouses to work in other states through “privilege to practice policies” or to more easily transfer their license to a new state.
World War II Veterans / Driver’s License Designation — Senate Bill 268 ensures that World War II veterans whose service pre-dated DD 214 paperwork can have their military service indicated on their driver’s license or photo identification card.
100% Service-Connected Disabled / State Park Fees — Senate Bill 521 increases the current state park camping fees discount available to veterans from 50% to 100% for Tennessee residents who have a 100% service-connected permanent disability as determined by the VA.
Women Veterans Day — Senate Bill 390 declares June 12 as Women’s Veterans Day to honor the efforts of Tennessee’s distinguished female veterans and pay tribute to their character and courage in answering the call of action with pride and conviction.
Disabled Veterans / State Employee / Sick Leave — Senate Bill 1183 allows a state employee, who is a veteran with a service-connected disability of 30% or more, to receive 36 hours of sick leave each year to attend appointments related to that disability.
Major Trevor Joseph Act – Senate Bill 793 requires the Department of Veterans Services to provide burial services for a person who died while on active duty with the United States armed forces, Tennessee National Guard or Tennessee Air National Guard and is being interred in a state veterans’ cemetery on a date requested by the family members of the person if the department is given at least 72 hours notice for the burial.