“An Act Relative to Veterans’ Allowances, Labor, Outreach and Recognition,” also known as the “VALOR Act II,” creates increased supports for workforce training for Veterans, continued access to Veterans’ services and increased protections for Servicemembers seeking higher education in the Commonwealth. The VALOR Act II was signed into law April 3, 2014.
VALOR Act II provides $350,000 for the training and certification of Veterans’ Services Officers (VSO) through the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) and will allow DVS to develop training and guidelines to ensure the Commonwealth has trained and qualified Veterans’ advocates at the community level. The Act will also ensure municipal compliance with Chapter 115 so that all Massachusetts Veterans have access to the highest quality assistance regardless of where they live.
Chapter 115 is a state law requiring that all cities and towns in the Commonwealth provide local veterans agents to serve as community advocates, but also to administer the financial benefits available to veterans and their family members. Those eligible can receive financial assistance for food, shelter, clothing, housing supplies and medical care.
The Act also requires the Division of Professional Licensure to waive application fees for members of the armed forces for which the Division will accept education, training or service completed by the applicant toward qualification requirements to receive license or certification. The legislation also prohibits active military enrolled at public and private colleges and universities from academic or financial penalties by virtue of their service. A student who enrolls, but is unable to complete a course because he or she is called to active duty, can complete the course at a later date, or withdraw with a full refund of fees and tuition.
VALOR Act II builds off record investments in Veterans services made by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2012 when “An Act Relative to Veterans’ Access, Livelihood, Opportunity, and Resources”, or the VALOR Act, was passed. Building upon the VALOR Act, which, in part, required certain areas of state government to establish military friendly practices for licensing, all state agencies that oversee professional licensing within the Administration have established guidelines to assist members of the armed forces, Veterans and their spouses as they prepare and apply for jobs in Massachusetts. The state then expanded this action to reach all relevant agencies within the Executive Branch.