Published January 14. 2013 1:00PM Updated January 14. 2013 1:55PM
Hartford —As the veteran population continues to grow across the U.S., the state legislature made its temporary Veterans’ Affairs Committee a permanent committee at the start of this year’s legislative session.
“Our veterans have dedicated so much of themselves in service of our country,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn. “The elevation of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to full committee status reflects the legislature’s commitment to helping our veterans transition home and find meaningful employment.”
The advantage of a permanent or “standing” committee is that bills may be brought directly to the Senate or House floor whereas temporary or “select” committees must have another committee take up a bill and pass it before the bill may be brought to the floor.
The decision to upgrade the committee was bipartisan.
“Our veterans are facing some very difficult issues unique to those who are active military and those who have served,” said Sen. Jason Welch, R-Bristol, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard reserve and U.S. Army National Guard. “As a member of the committee charged with overseeing public policy related to veterans, I am pleased to see our General Assembly take this important step.”
Committee co-chairman Sen. Carlo Leone, D-Stamford, who is an Air Force veteran, and state Rep. Jack Hennessy, D-Bridgeport, who is an Army veteran, also praised the move.
“I am pleased we are conveying this strong message to all of our veterans and active service members,” Hennessy said.
Rep. Dave Yaccarino, R-North Haven, a former member of the U.S. Navy reserve and ranking member of the committee, said the action was long overdue.
“We owe them a debt that, frankly, can never be repaid,” he said.
Numerous veterans’ advocacy organizations said they were thankful the committee was finally permanent.
“It brings veterans’ concerns into parity with other issues,” said Gen. Daniel McHale, the transition assistance advisor for the State of Connecticut and chapter president of the Association of the U.S. Army. He thanked Williams and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, for already passing meaningful legislation, such as veteran status flags on drivers’ licenses.
Bob Hunter, legislative chairman of Veterans of Foreign Wars in Connecticut, said the committee, “will, for the first time since 1947, stand poised to most effectively address their needs as veterans.”