To the Editor,
WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Throughout the process of drafting a veterans omnibus bill poised to increase access to benefits and services for veterans, my staff and I met with many individuals and groups.
I was proud of the input we received from each and every member of the Legislature during the drafting of the “VALOR Act.” Rep. Carolyn Dykema was at the forefront of these deliberations, especially advocating for the inclusion of veterans’ treatment courts.
When I returned home from my recent deployment in Iraq, I wanted to ensure our state remained forward-thinking and focused on the current and future climate for our service men and women and their families. Rep. Dykema, as a member of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, quickly and without hesitation reached out to me and my staff to impress the importance of including court diversion treatment programs for our veterans in the “VALOR Act.” On numerous occasions, my staff and I met with Representative Dykema to develop provisions in the bill that would assist service men and women dealing with the difficulties of reintegrating back into society after their military deployments.
The “VALOR Act” was signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick on May 31, 2012. With Rep. Dykema’s support and counsel, several provisions of the new law were adopted directly from the legislation she originally filed and for which she advocated at the beginning of this legislative session. House bill 3410, "An Act Relative to Support for Veterans," provided a blueprint for how we should evaluate the unique experiences and needs of our veterans as Massachusetts continues to explore models for veterans treatment courts.
The passion and enthusiasm Rep. Dykema displayed in advocating for our veterans, military members and their families was unmatched. I certainly look forward to partnering with her and her knowledgeable staff in the future to address the many issues that still remain within our veteran population.
State Sen. Mike Rush
Co-Chair, Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs
Iraq War Veteran