Protecting those who protect us
As a retired two-star general, I have witnessed firsthand the strength our men and women in uniform possess and the sacrifices they and their families make to protect our nation.
California has the largest veteran population of any state, and an inherent and solemn responsibility to safeguard their rights and ensure access to the benefits and services they have undoubtedly earned.
Every veteran is entitled to certain fundamental rights as a result of their service and sacrifice, particularly as they come home and transition back to civilian life.
It’s time the State recognizes this. That’s why I have authored Senate Bill 112: The California Veterans’ Bill of Rights.
SB 112 means that for the first time in California’s history, our veterans will have basic, fundamental rights codified into law, and begins the process of recognizing the unique needs of those who fought to protect us by protecting them as they come home.
The Veterans' Bill of Rights affirms every California veteran's right to:
- Be treated with dignity and respect and to receive accurate, courteous, and timely service in all of their contacts with the Department of Veterans Affairs;
- Receive fair and equal treatment, irrespective of rank, position, or status, and to be treated with tact, comprehension, and understanding;
- Be involved in the decisions affecting their care and the formulation of programs and benefits that affect their daily lives;
- Be informed of all programs and benefits for which they are eligible (this right is affirmed for both current veterans and transitioning active duty military service members who are likely to be California veterans);
- File an application for benefits at any time and to receive written notice and explanation of approval or denial of their application;
- Be provided with equal benefits in any part of the state in which they, their spouses, domestic partners, or their dependents reside. In that respect, geographical location shall not determine the quality or level of service or care provided;
- Adequate, safe, and reliable housing;
- Receive the education and job training necessary to secure gainful civilian employment;
- Receive the physical and mental health services they require as a result of their service, free from fear of retaliation or stigma. Further, veteran status shall not negatively impact or cause state and local mental health services to be withheld; and
- Receive services or benefits without fear of retaliation or stigma. Further, no veteran shall be compelled to decline services or benefits against his or her will, and every reasonable effort shall be made to connect veterans with the services and benefits to which they are rightfully entitled.
The Veterans' Bill of Rights is also extended to veterans' spouses, domestic partners and dependents where applicable, and it in no way limits the rights of veterans. Rather, it establishes the minimum, fundamental rights the State must recognize in order to protect those who protect us.
You can read the Veterans' Bill of Rights by clicking the following link: