Schiavo introduces bill package to support veterans

Politics and government
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News release  

Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, has introduced a package of three bills dedicated to improving financial protections for reservists and ensuring the Department of Veterans Affairs is serving all veterans, the assemblywoman’s office announced in a news release. 

“The state has established a number of programs to support reservists and veterans; however, as legislators, it’s our job to make sure these programs are working as intended and that departments are held accountable when they’re not,” Schiavo, who chairs the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, said in the release. “With this package of bills, we can improve the financial protections for those serving, gain clarity on what aspects of the Department of Veterans affairs can be improved, and ensure a voice continues to advocate in the department for those who have historically had difficulty accessing the benefits they deserve for their service to the United States.” 

The release provided the following summary of the legislation: 

• Assembly Bill 1854 will help ensure that when members of the National Guard and reservists are called to active duty, they are able to use credit protections granted to them under existing law. Members of the Guard and reserve are often called to active duty on very short notice, and sometimes don’t learn of the protections the law provides until it is too late to take advantage of them. The bill creates a 180-day window following their activation during which they may apply for retroactive deferment of payment and interest on specified debts, such as credit cards, vehicle loans and mortgages.  

• AB 1908 will improve government transparency and performance by requiring the California Department of Veterans Affairs to report to the Legislature on the findings of its internal auditor. The requirement imposed by the bill is similar to one that already applies to the California Military Department’s inspector general. 

• AB 1994 will strengthen representation in state government of minority and underrepresented veterans. The bill adds the deputy secretary of minority and underrepresented veterans affairs to those deputies whose appointments are specified in statute. Those already enshrined in statute are the undersecretary, the deputy secretary of women veterans affairs and the deputy secretary of veterans homes. “The position is a relatively new one, but it is an important one,” the release said. “Minority veterans are less likely to receive benefits, and often live in areas where there are service gaps. Native American veterans, in particular, whose representation in the armed forces is about double their proportion of the general population, are less likely to receive benefits that they were entitled to, or could have established eligibility for.” 

All three bills have been referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.  

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