Senator Lewis Applauds Passage of the BRAVE Act, Improving Benefits & Services for Veterans, Active Military Members & Families

BOSTON — Senator Jason Lewis is pleased to announce the passage of the “BRAVE Act,” a new law that will expand benefits and increase access to a range of services for veterans, active-duty military and their families.

Understanding the sacrifice that military personnel and their families make not only while on active duty, but also after returning home, the Massachusetts Legislature has consistently prioritized passage of legislation that supports our veterans.

“This comprehensive veteran’s legislation will assist veterans and their families with employment protections, housing assistance, burial expenses, court programs, and medical care, while also expanding honors and recognition for veterans and service members,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Assistant Majority Whip.  “I’m proud that Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in supporting and caring for our veterans.”

The bill grants paid military leave for those called to duty by the armed forces for up to 40 days for training and operation purposes.

To help ease the costs of housing, the legislation changes the requirement for veterans to receive property tax exemptions from residing in the Commonwealth for five years down to two years.  It also increases the amount a veteran can earn on their property tax exemption for volunteering in their city or town.

The BRAVE Act increases the burial expense paid by the Commonwealth from $2,000 to $4,000 for indigent veterans to receive to adequately provide for a dignified funeral. It also exempts any veterans who receive annuities for service to their country from income calculations when applying for state programs or services.

The bill also:

  • Addresses emergency medical transportation reimbursements;
  • Revises the Veteran Court Diversion program;
  • Updates the veteran bonus program at the State Treasurer’s Office;
  • Designates the 5th day of April as Gold Star Wives Day and the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mothers and Families Day
  • Directs cities and towns to designate veteran specific parking spaces and city and town halls;
  • Provides veterans time off, with or without pay, at the discretion of the employer, for Memorial and Veterans Day so they can take part in ceremonies in their community;
  • Establishes several studies and analysis regarding higher education, incarcerated veterans, creditable service and National Guard recognition.

The BRAVE Act was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker on August 9, 2018.