Whereas, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services reviews the current state and federal resources available to veterans while also working to develop new proposals to assist veterans; and
Whereas the General Court requested in 2010 a report on the effectiveness and efficiency of establishing a program of behavioral health career development for returning veterans in conjunction with the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology under a Federal Yellow Ribbon Program of scholarship entitled, Train Vets to Treat Vets to respond to the Special Commission to Study and Investigate the Hidden Wounds of War on Massachusetts Service Members’ 2009 report examining the mental health effects of war upon returning Massachusetts service members, identifying best practices in the delivery of services to veterans and addressing the barriers to accessing these services, while it described the severity and incidence of mental health issues for returning veterans;
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in the General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. Chapter 10 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 35PP the following new section:-
Section 35QQ. There shall be established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a separate fund to be known as the Train Vets to Treat Vets Fund. The fund shall consist of monies paid to the registrar of motor vehicles pursuant to the nineteenth paragraph of section 2 of chapter 90, together with any interest or earnings accrued through investment or deposit. The state treasurer shall be custodian of the fund and shall receive, deposit and invest all monies transmitted to him under this section in accordance with sections 34, 34A and 38 of chapter 29 in such a manner as to secure the highest rate of return available consistent with the safety of the fund, and shall credit interest and earnings on the trust fund corpus to the trust fund. The state treasurer shall transfer funds, at the request of the council, from the income and receipts of the fund to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans Services established by Executive Order # 483 in April of 2007. The council shall award and administer grants from the fund, without further appropriation, to community-based programs in clinical service partnership with institution(s) of higher education providing scholarship, career development and support for the formal education of veterans to work with veterans and their families in the provision of culturally competent behavioral health, clinical counseling and support services. The council shall develop, in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Services, written criteria for the awarding of those grants, which shall be evaluated and revised as necessary. For purposes of this section the word “veteran” shall have the same meaning as that defined in clause Forty-third of section 7 of chapter 4 of the General Laws. No funds collected from these provisions shall deter from the collection of fees by the registrar of motor vehicles for the Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers’ Homes pursuant to section 2 of chapter 90 of the General Laws through the purchase of license plates with the designation VETERAN by eligible veterans of the commonwealth, upon compensating the registry of motor vehicles for the cost associated with the license plates, and which shall be deposited into and for the purposes of the retained revenue account of the Soldiers' Home.
The council shall file a report detailing the amount of funds collected and expended from the fund along with a copy of the written criteria used to expend funds to the house and senate committees on ways and means not later than April 15 of each calendar year. An amount not to exceed 5 per cent of the total funds deposited in the fund may be expended by the council for administrative costs directly attributable to the grants and programs funded by the fund, including, but not limited to the costs of clerical and support personnel. Any unexpended balance of monies in the fund at the end of the fiscal year shall not revert to the General Fund but shall remain available for expenditure from such fund in subsequent fiscal years. No expenditure made from the fund shall cause the fund to become deficient at any point during the fiscal year.
SECTION 2. Section 2 of chapter 90 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the eighteenth paragraph the following new paragraph:-
The registrar shall furnish to owners of private passenger motor vehicles and motorcycle veteran and military special plates issued and renewed without charge, information about the purpose of the Train Vets to Treat Vets Fund upon registration or renewal presentation by the applicant or surviving spouse to the registrar. The applicant or surviving spouse may elect to contribute an amount to the Train Vets to Treat Vets Fund consistent with donations by non-veteran or non-military special plate registrants to charitable organizations identified on these special plates and if they do so elect, shall retain a distinctive Train Vets to Treat Vets Fund emblem for their private passenger motor vehicle or motorcycle veteran and military special plate use upon payment of the registration donation amount established by the registrar.
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