By House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” – President George Washington.
Memorial Day is upon us, a time when we gather to remember those who have fought and in some cases died for our country, and to celebrate their service and sacrifice that makes the United States a beacon of hope and freedom for the rest of the world.
Our Commonwealth has a long and distinguished history of its citizens serving in the military, both in war and in peace. According to information from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, there are currently more than 335,000 veterans living in Kentucky. And while Memorial Day is a time designated to remember and honor our military men and women, we in the General Assembly work every day to assist and pay homage to our veterans.
More than 45 bills were filed in the 2013 Regular Session of the General Assembly that dealt with veterans’ issues, varying from the naming of a bridge or highway in honor of a soldier to providing assistance to those who have served. Among the bills passed and signed into law were:
· Senate Bill 95, which extends the tuition waiver to five-years for any adopted child who serve in our armed forces.
· House Bill 149, which directs the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs to manage the veterans’ program trust fund. HB 149 also included a bill sponsored by Rep. Donna Mayfield, R-Winchester that expands the eligibility for the Kentucky Medal of Freedom to any soldier buried in Kentucky and who have a living relative in the Commonwealth. Rep. Mayfield sponsored the bill in honor of Staff Sgt. James Hunter, a Kentucky native killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010.
· Senate Bill 1, which attempts to improve the ability for our military men and women stationed overseas to cast their ballot.
· Senate Bill 128 allows veterans to seek a special designation on their Kentucky driver’s license or state ID card.
· House Bill 272, which revises the design of Kentucky’s Purple Heart license plate to include a picture of the Purple Heart medal, and include the words ‘combat wounded’ on the plate.
One of our greatest presidents, Ronald Reagan, once said, “There are some who’ve forgotten why we have a military. It’s not to promote war; it’s to be prepared for peace.” Likewise we must remember and honor our veterans every day, not just in times of war or on Memorial Day. We also must continue to work in Frankfort to assist our veterans and show them the dignity and respect they deserve.
I welcome your comments and concerns on any issues throughout the year impacting our Commonwealth. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can keep track of legislation for the 2013 session through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.