As a state legislator, my main priority is to accurately represent the people of North Haven. I take that responsibility very seriously and always do my best to be the voice of North Haven residents at the Capitol in Hartford. I also serve on several committees within the General Assembly, specifically, on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding, Public Safety and Security, and Energy and Technology Committees. I also serve on the Veterans Committee as the highest ranking House Republican, also referred to as the Ranking Member.
The Veterans Committee has cognizance over all state matters pertaining to military and Veterans’ affairs, with the exception of Veterans’ pensions. As the Ranking Member of the Veterans Committee, I am proud to say that my colleagues and I in the legislature were able to pass several laws to better assist our veterans this year. Among the many Public Acts that will become law on October 1, 2016 are the following measures that I supported, which specifically benefit veterans:
- An Act Concerning The Labor Department And Certain Professional Opportunities For Veterans, Improving Customer Service To Veterans By The Advocacy And Assistance Unit Of The Department Of Veterans’ Affairs And Strengthening Coordination Between The Department Of Veterans’ Affairs And Municipalities – To pair veterans and members of the armed forces and National Guard who have acquired specialized skills from military training with certain professional opportunities compatible with such skills
- An Act Supporting Veteran-Owned Small Businesses – To support veteran-owned small businesses
- An Act Concerning Veterans’ Property Taxes – To increase from ten thousand dollars to fifteen thousand dollars the maximum property tax exemption a municipality may provide to veterans or their surviving spouses
- An Act Concerning Women Veterans – To continue building awareness of women veterans’ issues and address their unique needs by expanding opportunities for outreach and support by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Visit https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/aearchives/20161001ActsEffective.asp for a full list of bills taking effect on October 1, 2016.
Due to my service on the Veterans Committee, I have become well versed in the specific struggles our veterans and their families endure. I have learned that we must always work to consider common sense methods to evolve and improve our state’s assistance and programs geared towards veterans. After all, it is the least we can do to make up for their selfless service to this state and our country.
I recently heard about a new service that works with veterans and their families, and so I went to check it out in early September. Equine Expressions located at 53 Cedar Lake Road in North Branford focuses on assisting veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, grief, addictions, transitions and re-entry to civilian life through equine-assisted psychotherapy. During my visit to Equine Expressions, I learned about the EAGALA Model used for treatment. Through the efforts of facilitators certified with EAGALA Military Services designation, service members, veterans, and their families are better able to understand and integrate new perspectives and behaviors into their lives.
In the future, I look forward to continuing the good work of the people – building upon new and existing programs targeted towards improving the lives of the citizens of this state and specifically our veterans. I am very proud of the progress made to protect and improve the needs of veterans thus far and when the Veterans Committee meets again in January, I will continue to work with my legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to enhance the programs and services available to veterans. I believe that a core function of state government is to provide for the essential needs, safety and security of the citizens of Connecticut, which especially includes those who fought to protect us.