IAVA-CT State Benefits Advocacy for Veterans with Bad Paper

The Connecticut Chapter of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA-CT) carries out IAVA’s mission to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans in the state. IAVA-CT is dedicated to ensuring that all Connecticut veterans – including those who were discharged from the military under less-than-honorable conditions – are welcomed back home, and continue to receive effective support and care in their communities.

Most recently, IAVA-CT proposed and advocated for legislation aimed at ensuring equal access to state veterans’ benefits. IAVA-CT’s efforts culminated on May 31, 2018, when Governor Malloy signed Senate Bill 284 into law, making Connecticut the first state to open its benefits to less-than-honorably discharged veterans with trauma. See Pub. Act No. 18-47. The law extends state veterans’ benefits to former service members discharged from the U.S. military under other-than-honorable (OTH) conditions, and who experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, or sexual trauma during their service. Qualifying Connecticut veterans are now eligible for services such as treatment for addiction and mental illness at the state-run veterans’ home and hospital at Rocky Hill, tuition waivers for in-state colleges, and funeral and burial assistance.

The bill passed the Connecticut Senate and House of Representatives unanimously. In supporting the legislation, legislators recognized that veterans with experiences of trauma are disproportionately likely to receive an OTH, a non-punitive administrative discharge status that can be issued for relatively minor misconduct, including taking unprescribed painkillers or missing training exercises, and which often stems from PTSD, TBI, or MST. The move came after a Feb. 2018 report released by the IAVA-CT and the clinic estimated that approximately 800 Connecticut veterans would benefit from the bill.

Senate Bill 284 will go into effect on October 1, 2018. In order to receive state benefits, a veteran must be diagnosed with a qualifying condition by an individual licensed to provide health care services at a United States Department of Veterans Affairs facility. The provider will complete a form promulgated by the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs.

Report: A Time to Heal: State Benefits for Connecticut Veterans with Bad Paper

Media Coverage:

• Julia Bergman, If signed by Malloy, bill would make Connecticut first state to open up benefits to bad paper vets, New London Day, May 11, 2018
• Emilie Munson, Legislature extends benefits to veterans with less than honorable discharges, Connecticut Post, May 8, 2018
• Steve Kennedy, Time to recognize the service of all veterans, Danbury News Times, May 6, 2018
• Sandra Gomez-Aceves, Advocates Applaud Senate Passage of Bill Granting State Benefits to Veterans with ‘Bad Paper’, Hartford Courant, April 19, 2018
• Sandra Gomez-Aceves, Advocates Seek Benefits for Veterans with Other-than-Honorable Discharges Attributable to ‘Invisible Wounds', Hartford Courant, February 18, 2018