BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Maura Healey announced legislation Thursday called the HERO Act, which takes on a slew of needs and concerns facing Veterans in the state.
According to the Governor’s office, this legislation is the first time in 20 years that a Massachusetts Governor has specifically filed a comprehensive package aimed at the welfare of Veterans living in the state.
This legislation will “increase benefits, modernize services and promote inclusivity.” The bill itself includes 17 spending, policy and tax initiatives. It also takes a specific look at LGBTQ+ Veterans.
For the LGBTQ community, the HERO Act would create a pilot program that would provide IVF reimbursement for same-sex couples while also creating a working group which will work to look at solutions to the federal policy which excludes same sex couples.
It also would also expand the scope of the Veterans Equality Review Board to go beyond “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharges and look at discharges related to “military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, mental health conditions, or an HIV discharges.”
“It is extremely heartwarming for me to see that my fellow brothers and sisters are getting that level of respect and due honor. They served side by side with me and its really heartwarming to see, it really is, and it’s long overdue,” said John Paradis of the Veterans Advocacy Coalition.
The HERO Act also takes a look at alternative therapies for treating Veterans suffering from mental health disorders, such as psilocybin.
Just this week, Healey swore in members to her Advisory Council on Veteran Services, which was put in place to direct the Governor on Veteran issues.