AG Ferguson request bill to help more than 35,000 Washington veterans access state benefits passes legislature unanimously

Saturday, March 2, 2024

OLYMPIA — Today, the Washington state Legislature unanimously passed Attorney General request legislation sponsored by Rep. Mike Volz, R-Spokane, that will expand state benefits to more than 35,000 Washington veterans. It now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Most of the Washington veterans affected by the bill, House Bill 2014, already qualify for federal benefits. Due to Washington state’s narrower definitions, they are unable to access state benefits.

The Attorney General Request legislation changes state law to ensure veterans who qualify for federal veterans benefits also qualify for state benefits. In addition, the bill ensures any veteran discharged solely for their sexual orientation or gender identity can qualify for state benefits after a review, even if they do not qualify for federal benefits.

Ferguson estimates the bill will allow more than 35,000 additional Washington veterans to access state benefits, based on census and other federal data. State benefits include things like admission to state veterans’ nursing homes, veteran preference in state job applications or down payment assistance for a new home.

Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, sponsored a Senate version of the bill.

“If Washington’s veterans can get benefits from the VA, then they should be able to get critical benefits from the state they live in,” Ferguson said. “This simple and long overdue change will improve the lives of tens of thousands of Washington veterans. I appreciate Rep. Volz’s partnership on this bill.”

“This legislation is simply trying to define what the standard is to qualify for benefits and under what circumstances, said Volz. "Any service member with any discharge other than a dishonorable one should have access to all veteran benefits and programs.”

Washington law currently only offers benefits to veterans who were discharged from military service under a very narrow set of conditions. This disproportionately impacts veterans who are BIPOC; identify as LGBTQ and were discharged before the military ended its restrictive policies like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; survived military sexual assault or had mental health conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Examples of state benefits
  • Washington state offers veterans benefits such as:Home ownership assistance
  • Admission to state veterans nursing homes
  • Hiring preference for veterans in public employment
  • Protection against discrimination due to veteran status
  • Free license plates for veterans with disabilities

More information here


Anonymous,  March 2, 2024 at 10:34 AM  

Sounds like reparations.

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