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Mazzeo, Mukherji, DeAngelo, Andrzejczak & Tucker Bill to Increase Support for Disabled Veterans

Measure Would Increase Annual Allowance for Disabled Vets to $1,500 (TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Raj Mukherji, Wayne DeAngelo, Bob Andrzejczak and Cleopatra Tucker sponsored to increase financial support for disabled veterans in New Jersey recently was approved Thursday by the Assembly.

The bill will now be referred to the Senate.

The bill (A-4366) would increase the state's allowance for certain disabled veterans to $1,500 annually from $750. Currently, a blind veteran receives $750 under the Blind Veterans' Allowance Program, an amount that has not changed since 1971. Paralyzed veterans receive $750 annually under the Paraplegic and Hemiplegic Veterans' Allowance Program, an amount that has not changed since 1981.

"For over 30 years, our blind and paraplegic veterans have gone without an increase. That's wrong. The buying power of $750 today is significantly less than it was 30 years ago," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "Veterans who put their lives on the line and suffered injuries on the battlefield deserve this increase, which will help them and their families have greater financial stability."

"New Jersey has a duty to take care of those who made great sacrifices to defend the United States of America," said Mukherji (D-Hudson), who served as a reservist in the U.S. Marine Corps. "This increase in the allowance for disabled veterans is long overdue."

"It's simply indefensible that the cost of living in New Jersey has gone up but this allowance for disabled veterans has not," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "These men and women paid the price for our nation's freedom. This state must increase its support for them."

"When New Jersey's veterans return to civilian life, the state ought to display its gratitude for their service by providing them and their families with the assistance they need, especially if they come back with physical disabilities that will affect their lives going forward," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient who was wounded in Iraq while serving with the U.S. Army. "Doubling this allowance can help disabled veterans make ends meet when they return home."

"Veterans deserve the best we can give them, and this increase is the right thing to do," said Tucker (D-Essex). "This is a start toward providing a more helpful allowance to those who have sacrificed their health and quality of life to protect our freedom."

The measure also would allow for annual allowance adjustments in accordance with changes in the Consumer Price Index.

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