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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 16, 2020 09:16 AM
From: Representative Thomas P. Murt
To: All House members
Subject: Benefits for Veterans Exiting Incarceration in PA
“I’d do anything to help veterans.” - Tammy Duckworth

The incidence of veterans being incarcerated has spiked, not only in Pennsylvania, but across America. Many veterans, some of whom have served our nation in combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the War on Terror, have found themselves incarcerated due to challenges they have had with addictions, mental health concerns as well as their participation in other criminal activities. Some institutions estimate that 10% of their inmate population are veterans! Some institutions even have veterans ‘wings’ or cellblocks.

When a veteran is incarcerated, they lose all V.A. benefits. Upon release, they are supposed to get a portion of their earned benefits back. Sadly, very few veterans who serve time in a correctional facility, upon release, even know what benefits to which they are entitled, how to apply for them, where to get help or ask questions.

These men and women, despite their criminal actions, have served our nation in our armed forces, and many, are disabled because of their service. They deserve our support and assistance as they turn their lives around and transform themselves into contributing members of our Commonwealth family.

Restoring earned job-training, vocational training, and other benefits, enables these men and women to get back on-track in finding employment, supporting themselves and their families, being self-sufficient, and paying taxes. Additionally, if these veterans are educated about obtaining healthcare (through the V.A.), and other benefits, it might eliminate the need to seek assistance through Commonwealth resources.

I will soon be introducing legislation that requires that veterans who are incarcerated in a State Correctional Institution (SCI), be given a "veterans benefits briefing" before they are released. Among the topics to be explored are state and federal benefits available to the veteran and their family, how to access/apply for them, healthcare options, etc. This bill will be cost-neutral.

Please join me in supporting our veterans and consider co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB2651