Veterans Bill of Rights Approved by State Senate

January 25, 2016

First bill in California’s history and only second in Nation to codify veterans’ rights into law gains momentum as it heads to State Assembly

Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) announced today that Senate Bill 112, also known as the Veterans Bill of Rights, has passed the California State Senate on a bipartisan vote of 37-0.

“I believe 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, and I thank my colleagues for supporting this measure,” said Senator Roth, who served for 32 years in the United States Air Force, retiring in 2007 in the grade of Major General.  “Returning military service members are often unaware of their rights with respect to housing, mental and physical health services, disability benefits, interactions with organizations and state agencies, as well as the rights of their spouses, partners and dependents.  We can – and must – do better.”

SB 112 states in one concise code section the rights of California’s veterans, and lays out in clear language the standard of care they can expect to receive through their contacts with the various agencies and organizations that administer veterans programs.

Among other rights, SB 112 specifies that every California veteran has:

  • The right to adequate, safe and reliable housing that provides mental health and transitional supportive services as well as the right to education and job training;
  • The right to dignified treatment in contacts with state agencies;
  • The right to seek benefits at any time and have a written notice or explanation of approval or denial;
  • The right to receive these benefits without the fear of retaliation or stigma

If signed into law, SB 112 would be only the second veterans-specific bill of rights in the Nation.  Canada has also adopted a veterans bill of rights, and only one other state, Massachusetts, has adopted such a bill. 

Senator Roth continued: “California should lead the nation in ensuring the American Dream is a reality for those who fought to protect it.  The Veterans Bill of Rights will go a long way toward demonstrating that California is serious about treating its veterans with the respect they deserve, as well as imbue our veterans with the rights they need to access the care and services they are owed.  It will give our veterans the right to demand the treatment and services that they have earned and frankly, is the right thing to do.”

SB 112 now goes to the State Assembly for consideration.

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