Bill Granting Eligible Injured Veterans First Increase in Annual Payment Since 1971 Clears Assembly
Aiming to provide additional financial support for those who fought and sacrificed for our country, legislation doubling the annual payment to qualifying veterans was approved Thursday by the Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee. Assembly Democrats John Armato, Vincent Mazzeo and Wayne P. DeAngelo sponsored the measure. The bill (A-2172) calls for an increase of the state's annual payment to veterans with certain wartime related injuries. Since 1981, disabled veterans with paraplegia and hemiplegia have received $750 through the Paraplegic and Hemiplegic Veterans' Allowance Program. Blind New Jersey veterans also have received $750, through the Blind Veterans' Allowance Program, a payment that has not increased since 1971. Under the legislation, both payments would increase to $1,500 per year. "It's extremely disheartening to think that these payments have remained flat for nearly four and five decades," said Assemblyman John Armato (D-Atlantic). "They should reflect the increased cost of living which certainly has not remained flat over this time." "We must continuously look for ways to aid men and women who have served our country," said Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "Our soldiers have served, and they have sacrificed. They should be compensated accordingly." The bill also stipulates that the increases be adjusted annually in direct proportion to the percentage change of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over a 12-month period beginning November 1 and ending October 31. The adjustment would only be applicable should the CPI percentage change result in an increase of the allowances. "While additional money can never replace the physical and emotional losses incurred by our injured service men and women, it can provide financial relief for injured veterans and their families," said Assembly DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). The bill was introduced January 29, 2018. It now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for additional consideration.