From the Capitol / State Sen. Bob Duff
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I came to a close, marking the end of a conflict that brought the United States to a prominent place in world affairs. The following year President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as Armistice Day, which in 1954 became Veterans Day, an occasion to celebrate the service and heroism of all our veterans.
This event takes on a particular importance this year as between 6,000 to 8,000 veterans return home to Connecticut from the wars abroad in Afghanistan and Iraq. We owe these heroes our gratitude for their service, and a warm welcome as they begin the readjustment to civilian life.
Toward that end, I supported legislation this year that I hope will aid veterans returning home in their search for good jobs.
While serving in the military, our soldiers receive some of the best training in a variety of skills. Some of this expertise translates very well into the civilian workforce, such as work in emergency medical services, mechanics and other skilled trades.
A new legislative task force, combined with an executive order from Gov. Malloy, will help streamline the process for veterans of the United States military when seeking to obtain occupational certifications and licenses.
Together with the STEP-UP for Veterans program, which helps support veterans' salaries at private companies while they receive on-the-job training, and the Job Expansion Tax Credit of $900 per month for hiring a veteran, we can help every returning soldier to find a good job.
I also supported a measure this year that will require every city and town in Connecticut to appoint one of its employees as a veterans' service contact person -- a point of contact for veterans in their town hall to connect them with the benefits they have earned through their service. There's no replacement for a local, friendly face.
To provide additional local help, I supported an expansion of the income-dependent property tax exemption for disabled veterans, up to $9,000 per year. The state will reimburse towns to make up the difference. Veterans who still bear the scars of their service deserve a helping hand.
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Finally, I also voted this year to restore state benefits for military veterans who were previously denied federal benefits under the federal government's former "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy." We cannot undo the discrimination so many soldiers unjustly faced, but we can now begin to make amends.
Every year we can all do our part to support our military veterans, and give our thanks for their service.
Their work and sacrifices have made our democracy and our way of life possible here at home. This Veterans Day, be sure to thank a veteran you know.
State Sen. Bob Duff represents the 25th Senatorial District, including Norwalk and part of Darien.