Are you a veteran? Pennsylvania wants to connect you and your family with information about valuable benefits, programs and services that you may not know about.
The Pennsylvania Veteran’s Registry is intended to provide veterans with information on many benefits, programs and services that are available to them, It’s operated by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).
The registry is a fine idea, but it has not been particularly successful to date. It is too limited in scope and has been underutilized by veterans. An initial barrier is that veterans have to be aware of the existence of the registry and apply to receive information about benefits and programs. And not many veterans have applied. Currently, the online registry captures only about 7,000 of the over 894,000 veterans in Pennsylvania. That represents less than 1% of PA veterans.
Pennsylvania House Bill 1231 (HB 1231) is bi-partisan legislation that is intended to expand the scope, utilization and impact of the Veterans Registry.
The bill requires coordination by DMVA with other state agencies that have contact with veterans. Other agencies will inform veterans of the existence of the registry and assist those who wish to be included. The bill protects privacy by prohibiting the information collected from being sold or used for commercial purposes. It requires the DMVA to submit an annual report on how many veterans are accessing the registry.
HB 1231 bill passed the House on June 28, 2017 by a vote of 198-0. It awaits action in the Senate. But you don’t have to wait for HB 1231 to be enacted to register. You can apply for the registry now here. The current registry provides information on many benefits and programs such as:
- Compensation/Pension Claims
- Disabled Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption
- Veterans Temporary Assistance
- Blind Veterans Pension
- Educational Gratuity
- Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension
- Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans Bonus
- State Veterans Homes
- PA Veterans Trust Fund
- Honoring Our Veterans License Plate / Driver’s License and ID Card Veterans Designation
- Military Family Relief Assistance Program
Hopefully, an expanded registry as envisioned by HB 1231 can eventually become a one-stop shop for information on veterans benefits. If you support the expanded registry you might want to let you state Senator know. You can get the name and contact information for your Senator here.