Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Veterans’ Agenda

Jon Corzine’s Veterans’ Agenda

Honoring a Commitment to New Jersey’s Veterans

Jon Corzine, who served as a Marine Reservist, has placed veterans’ issues among his highest priorities in the U.S. Senate – and will make these issues a priority as Governor.

All service members and their families have made enormous sacrifices for our country, and Corzine believes it’s our responsibility to ensure that the government they fought for treats them with nothing but the utmost respect.

That’s why Corzine has worked tirelessly to address the issues of importance to veterans – issues such as remembrance of service, Veterans’ Administration funding, economic opportunity, accessing quality medical care, securing affordable housing and other quality of life issues.

Jon Corzine has laid out a vision for making New Jersey the best place to live, to work, to raise a family, to grow old – particularly for our veterans.

Specifically, Corzine’s veterans’ agenda focuses on three main areas:

1.  Veterans’ “right to know.”  Jon Corzine knows that there are too many veterans who don’t get the benefits which they’ve earned and to which they’re entitled because they simply don’t know about the benefits or how to access them.  Corzine believes that one of the most effective and efficient ways to educate veterans about their benefits is through the various state veterans’ organizations, which can serve as an invaluable source of information about benefits.  As Governor, Corzine will institute a state outreach program to make veterans aware of the veterans’ organizations in their local area and encourage them to participate as a way to educate themselves about the benefits they are entitled to.  Currently, New Jersey is home to 670,000 veterans, yet only 228,000 are members of veterans’ organizations.  Corzine also will institute a program requiring state Veterans Service Officers to advise veterans of all benefits they are entitled to when they apply for any benefit.

As a U.S. Senator, Corzine was an original cosponsor of the Veterans’ Right to Know Act, which sought to make it easier for veterans to learn about the full range of federal services for which they are eligible.

While the legislation did not pass in the Republican-led Congress, Corzine will take swift action on this front as Governor.

2.  Veterans’ health care.  Jon Corzine knows that veterans’ health care is not a privilege but was earned through sacrifice.  Corzine is committed to ensuring that veterans and their families are provided the best health care possible and that these veterans have access to the health care network.

            A)  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  More than 1,600 members of the NJ Guard are scheduled to return from overseas this year and many will suffer from, and seek counseling for, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)  Enrollment in PTSD treatment programs is expected to surge, and already the state PTSD program has a waiting list of at least 375 individuals.  The average client is on the waiting list for nine to 15 months before receiving treatment.

As Governor, Jon Corzine will increase funding for PTSD services to ensure timely treatment for all vets who need it.  Additionally, Corzine will encourage the utilization of the hotline (1-866-VETS NJ 4) established by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and UMDNJ’s Behavioral HealthCare for veterans under distress and readjusting to civilian life.  Corzine will harness resources from various departments of state government to help in the PTSD arena.

            B)  Home health care.  Home health care for veterans can be a cost-effective alternative to nursing home and hospital care.  In June, Corzine outlined plans to provide increased community-based alternatives in the state’s Medicaid program.  Similarly, Corzine will support community-based and home-based care for veterans.

            C)  Transportation for health care access.  Health care services can only benefit veterans if they are used – and transportation services are crucial to making sure this happens.  In his “disabilities agenda” released earlier this fall, Corzine committed to examining the five-year transportation plan and working with the Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner to identify gaps in services and ways to improve the current system.   Additionally, Corzine will encourage “best practices” in New Jersey’s counties, including regional transportation for veterans.

3.  Making life more affordable for New Jersey’s veterans.  Jon Corzine understands that veterans give years of their lives for service.  They lose valuable time that is critical for building credit and advancing in a career.  As a result, they disproportionately feel the burden of the high cost of living in New Jersey.

            A)  Housing.  As a U.S. Senator, Corzine worked to make it more affordable for veterans to buy a home.  He succeeded in increasing the upper limits for Veterans’ Administration-backed home loans.  As Governor, Corzine will ensure priority for veterans to access state housing programs – from rental assistance to help with a down payment for a home.

            B)  Health care.  Corzine fought to ensure that veterans have affordable health care.  He strongly opposed Bush’s plans to institute “enrollment fees” for veterans accessing VA health care.  As Governor, he will improve access to health care for New Jersey’s veterans.


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