Incentives and Programs

Other legislative/administrative lobbying successes by this department, together with other veterans organizations, are as follows:

  • Raised the annuity created in 1946 for combat-caused 100% blind or loss of limb veterans from $500 to $2,000. This raise - the first in 51 years - will help about 200 veterans. It does not put the veterans in the same position they were in 1946. Because of inflation, they would have to get about $10,000. Please note, for example, a Boston policeman in 1946 was paid $46 per week for a 6-day- per- week/12-hour-per-day work-week and today makes well over $1,400 per week for the equivalent work-week.

  • Extended this annual $2,000 annuity, effective November 11, 2005, to all service-connected 100% disabled veterans. This should help about 6,000 veterans. This annuity augments $1,500 from the state VA benefits and must be separately applied for through the state (or local veterans' agent).

  • Extended the $2,000 annuity, effective November 11, 2005, to the parents of veterans killed in the line of duty or as a result of disease or illness caused by war or insurrection (i.e., Gold Star Mothers and Fathers). This will help about 1,000 parents of deceased veterans. This is the first time that any state has given anything to the parents. Only a few hundred will take advantage of this benefit, but they are very appreciative of this small token for the contribution they gave to this country.

  • Ended Massachusetts being the only state in the country taxing military pensions, effective with the 1997 taxes (filed April 15, 1998). This will benefit about 13,000 military retirees living in Massachusetts.

  • Doubled the state's contribution towards real estate exemptions for our Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and their widows, resulting in a $75 "raise" for about 53,000 veterans or surviving spouses. This was the first raise in 27 years and represents a 40% raise for the majority of the DAV. This will help about 27,000 veterans and widows.

  • Allowed public employees of the state, county, and municipalities to "buy back" up to 4 years of credible service towards their retirement for the time they were in uniform. This will help about 10,000 veterans.

  • Increased money to bury a poor veteran to $2,000 for a total funeral cost of $3,000 and gave families up to 60 days to submit the application of this benefit. This will help bury about 200 veterans. Cities and towns pay the $2,000 and are reimbursed 75% by the state.

  • Provided to each City and Town a reimbursement of 75% of the cost of decorating the graves of veterans each Memorial Day. Previously, the state paid nothing toward these "little American flags" placed on each veteran's grave on Memorial Day. It is estimated that the graves of about 250,000 veterans are decorated each Memorial Day.

  • Established two state cemeteries exclusively for veterans in Agawam and Winchendon. This is the first time there is any veterans' cemetery in Massachusetts other than the National Cemetery in Bourne (Cape Cod).

  • Created free license plates for recipients of the Silver Star and Bronze Star (combat hero awards) in addition to previously established plates for Medal of Honor, Legion of Honor (e.g., Navy Cross), disabled veterans, former American Prisoners of War, and Purple Hearts (i.e., combat injury). Veterans' (flag) plates still cost a small fee, which goes to the Soldiers' Homes. This benefit will help recognize a couple of hundred of our battlefield heroes.

  • Maintained Veterans' Agent positions in every city and town and established a training program so that there will be at least one person in every municipality who can help veterans process claims for city, state, and federal benefits. Fought off legislative attempts to eliminate these positions.

  • Awarded $10,000 for the Korean War Veterans Association to care for the official state memorial to that war at the old Charlestown Navy Yard. Over 1,200 Massachusetts veterans died in Korea.

  • Awarded $14,000 (to be combined with other funds) to complete the POW/MIA eternal flame at the Bourne National Cemetery. Over 25,000 veterans are still Missing in Action from war.

  • Awarded $10 million to dry-dock and seal the bottom of the battleship USS Massachusetts (museum in the water in Fall River), which has not been out of the water in over 50 years and is in danger of sinking.