State Senate ARPA bill includes amendments for veterans’ issues

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – Two Veteran-specific amendments filed by Senator John C. Velis (D-Westfield) were unanimously adopted as part of the Massachusetts State Senate American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) spending bill.

Amendment 308 provides $500,000 to the Commonwealth’s Veterans’ Treatment Courts for
establishing transportation services for participants. Veterans’ Treatment Courts are designed to
handle certain low-level criminal cases that involve defendants with military service who are
struggling with substance use or behavioral health problems. After pleading guilty, Veterans can be
referred to the Treatment Courts for intensive treatment, which includes weekly court check-ins, Vet
to Vet mentorship, VA services, and more.

“For Veterans who are facing PTSD, mental health challenges, or substance abuse issues, these
courts are a god send,” said Senator Velis. “The courts have shown incredible outcomes in terms of
reducing the incarceration and recidivism rates of Veterans while also helping them address issues of
substance use and mental health.”

Additionally, an amendment was approved for extending eligibility for the Commonwealth’s Medal of
Liberty. The Medal of Liberty is awarded to members of the military who have been killed in action or who died as a result of wounds in action. The amendment would extend the Medal of Liberty posthumously to Massachusetts service members who died as a result of a training accident in the line of duty.

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