PA 17-83—sSB 914

Veterans' Affairs Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEFINITION OF A VETERAN FOR A CERTAIN HONOR AND CERTAIN BENEFIT

SUMMARY: This act broadens the eligibility criteria for certain veterans' benefits. It allows additional people to (1) receive a service ribbon and medal, (2) be buried in a Connecticut veterans' cemetery, or (3) have veteran status indicated on their driver's license or identity card.

The law generally defines a “veteran” as anyone honorably discharged or released from active service in the U.S. Armed Forces or their reserve components, including the Connecticut National Guard performing duty under Title 32 of the U.S. Code (e.g., certain Homeland Security missions).

The act also makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017, except the cemetery provision is effective January 1, 2018.

RIBBONS AND MEDALS

Existing law requires the veterans affairs commissioner, with the adjutant general, to award a ribbon and medal to veterans who served in a time of war and were Connecticut residents when called to active duty.

Prior law limited the award to veterans who served in a time of war and were living in Connecticut when the award was made. The act extends eligibility for the award to (1) all veterans living in Connecticut when the award is made, irrespective of whether they served in wartime or peacetime, and (2) honorably discharged former reservists who (a) were state residents when serving during a period of war or (b) are living in Connecticut when the award is made.

Existing law requires the commissioner, with the adjutant general, to adopt regulations on how to design and distribute the ribbon and medal and how to identify eligible veterans. Under the act, the regulations must also cover these tasks for newly eligible veterans and former members.

BURIAL IN A STATE VETERANS' CEMETERY

Under prior law, a Connecticut National Guard member who completed at least 20 years of guard service or his or her next of kin could apply to the Department of Veterans Affairs for the veteran to be buried in a state veterans' cemetery. The act extends eligibility for this benefit to (1) National Guard members who do not have active duty service beyond training, as long as they are entitled to receive federal retirement pay (10 U.S.C. ch. 1223) or, if under age 60, would be eligible for such pay and (2) one spouse of such qualified member.

VETERAN STATUS ON DRIVERS LICENSE OR IDENTITY CARD

By law, veterans may submit a request to the Department of Veterans Affairs to have their veteran status represented on their driver's license or identity card. The act extends eligibility for this benefit to any former service member entitled to military retirement pay under federal law, regardless of age (10 U.S.C. ch. 1223).

BACKGROUND

Service in Time of War

Under state law, “service in time of war” means at least 90 cumulative days of active service during a statutorily defined period of war, unless the veteran was separated earlier because of a U. S. Veterans Administration-rated service-connected disability or because the war lasted less than 90 days.

Period of War

“Period of war” is statutorily defined and shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Period of War

Operation

Date

Service Condition

World War II

12/7/1941 to 12/31/1946

Active service during the war

Korean War

6/27/1950 to 1/31/1955

Active service during the war

Lebanon Conflict

7/1/1958 to 11/1/1958 or 9/29/1982 to 3/30/1984

Combat or combat-support role in Lebanon

Vietnam Era

2/28/1961 to 7/1/1975

Active service during the war

Grenada invasion

10/25/1983 to 12/15/1983

Combat or combat-support role in Grenada

Operation Earnest Will (escort of Kuwaiti tankers flying U.S. flag in Persian Gulf)

7/24/1987 to 8/1/1990

Combat or combat-support role

Panama invasion

12/20/1989 to 1/31/1990

Combat or combat-support role

Persian Gulf War

8/2/1990 to a date prescribed by the President or law

Active service anywhere during the war