TRENTON – Today, the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee approved legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew establishing a task force to study issues facing returning members of the United States Armed Forces and the New Jersey National Guard.
“Our armed forces members are the backbone of our state and our country and we owe them more than just gratitude,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland). “We owe them all the help and support they need, from healthcare to employment assistance, so they can integrate back into our society as they have sacrificed so much to help us with their service. This task force will evaluate the challenges facing our servicemen and women and provide recommendations to address them.”
This bill, S-1737, establishes a task force in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to address issues facing members of the United States Armed Forces and New Jersey National Guard returning from overseas conflict areas and makes recommendations on how the State should address those issues and concerns.
The 11-member task force will consist of Commissioners of Education, Labor and Workforce Development, Health and Senior Services, and Human Services, or their designees; the Chairperson of the Civil Service Commission, or a designee; and the Adjutant General of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The Adjutant General will appoint five public members, with at least three persons with knowledge or experience in one of the following areas: demobilization and post-deployment; post-traumatic stress disorder, family readiness groups or family assistance centers; employer support groups; veterans service officers; issues relevant to women in the military and veteran homeless shelters.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA),military service personnel returning from combat often face civilian life reintegration challenges. Some of the critical issues facing returning military personnel and veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq include suicide risk, trauma, and homelessness. SAMHSA is the agency within the federal Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the United States.
The bill was approved with a vote of 4-0. It next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.