On November 12, the House of Representatives passed the FY21 budget. I am sharing with you a summary of a few sections, compiled by House Chair of the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee, Representative Linda Dean Campbell.
FY21 House Budget:
Veterans Funding Highlights
In total, programs administered by the Department of Veterans’ Services and our two Soldiers’ Homes are allocated over $149 million in this budget, an increase of $1.3 million over the FY20 General Appropriations Act. We have increased funding for Veterans’ social services and outreach by over $1 million compared to last year, and the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home and Holyoke Soldiers’ Home have received increases to their administrative line items of $265,253 and $231,140, respectively, compared to FY20.
Notably, the House budget also includes a $750,000 earmark for Home Base, a program of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation that is focused on healing the invisible wounds for Veterans and their families. This funding will continue the Legislature’s support of Home Base as they work to expand Veterans’ mental health services across the state by training clinicians and first responders on best practices for Veteran care.
1410-0010: Veterans’ Services Administration – $4,387,822 (increase of $89,982 over FY20)
These funds are for the operation of the Department of Veterans’ Services. The Department supports all of the estimated 327,000 veterans in the Commonwealth with matters such as housing, civil service exams, civilian job transitions, and more. A $50,000 earmark was included to train service dogs for veterans through NEADS.
1410-0012: Veterans’ Outreach Centers & Homeless Shelters – $7,800,522 (increase of $1,061,260 over FY20)
This line item funds social services to veterans, including outreach centers that are accessed by veterans of all eras. Funding was included for outreach centers, including homeless shelters, across the state.
1410-0015: Women Veterans’ Outreach – $116,243 (level-funded)
The women veterans’ outreach program addresses the specific needs of our women veterans.
1410-0018: Agawam and Winchendon Cemeteries Retained Revenue – $690,000 (level-funded)
This line item goes towards the operation and maintenance of our two veterans’ cemeteries in Agawam and Winchendon.
1410-0024: Veterans’ Service Officer Training and Certification – $362,695 (increase of $1,242 over FY20)
This line item funds training and certification of the VSOs that directly support Veterans in every city and town in the Commonwealth.
1410-0075: Train Vets to Treat Vets – $250,000 (level-funded)
In conjunction with William James College, this program creates peer-to-peer veterans’ programming.
1410-0250: Assistance to Homeless Veterans – $3,582,655 (increase of $15,000 over FY20)
Veteran homelessness remains a major problem in the Commonwealth. Services funded by this line item help our veterans to achieve sustainable, affordable housing.
1410-0251: New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans – $2,742,470 (increase of $100,000 over FY20)
The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, located in Boston, serves thousands of veterans each year through financial education, services to meet basic needs, and more.
1410-0400: Veterans’ Benefits (Chapter 115) – $72,109,878 (level-funded)
Funds from this key line item reimburse cities and towns for cash assistance and other benefits paid out to veterans and their families who have financial need.
1410-0630: Agawam and Winchendon Veterans’ Cemeteries– $1,251,150 (increase of $5,857 over FY20)
This line item provides for the administration of the two veterans’ cemeteries in Agawam and Winchendon.
1410-1616: War Memorials – $150,000 (decrease of $465,000 from FY20)
This line item funds the construction of war memorials in communities across the state in order to commemorate the service of our veterans.
4180-0100: Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts Administration – $29,531,990 (increase of $265,253 over FY20)
This line item provides funding for the maintenance and operation of the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.
4190-0100: Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Administration – $24,090,867 (increase of $231,140 over FY20)
This line item provides funding for the maintenance and operation of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. Ongoing investigations into the tragic COVID-19 outbreak at Holyoke earlier this year, including the continuing work of the Legislature’s Special Joint Oversight Committee, will reveal specific funding gaps to be addressed in future budgets.
0330-0344: Veterans Court Program – $220,115 (increase of $35,851 over FY20)
The Commonwealth’s five veterans’ treatment courts, which handle criminal cases involving defendants with prior military service, aim to support public safety while addressing underlying issues such as post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and military sexual trauma.
0610-2000: Welcome Home Bill Bonus Payments – $2,803,626 (level-funded)
These payments go to active and discharged service members who served after September 11, 2001 and meet other eligibility requirements. Applications for the bonuses are available online.
0611-1000: Bonus Payments to War Veterans – $44,500 (level-funded)
Much like the Welcome Home Bill Bonus, these bonuses go to veterans, service members, and their families for qualified military service.
4513-1026: Suicide Prevention & Intervention Program – $6,120,372 (increase of $1,025,000 over FY20)
This line item funds statewide and community-based suicide prevention, intervention, and post-intervention programs, including veterans’ suicide prevention. Suicides have increased due to the social and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
7002-6628: Disabled Veterans Outreach Program – $3,824,422 (increase of $780,140 over FY20)
This line item covers a federally funded grant to provide services to disabled veterans.