STATEHOUSE (March 13, 2014) — State Sen. Jim Banks’ (R-Columbia City) legislation to assist disabled Hoosier veterans cleared its final passage in the General Assembly today. Senate Bill 180 now moves to the governor’s desk where it could be signed into law.
As amended, SB 180 would establish the Veterans Disability Clinic Fund, which would provide grants to certain law schools that maintain a veterans disability clinic. These clinics would offer legal services at little to no cost to veterans, allowing law students to gain career experience by counseling or representing veterans in claims for disability compensation.
“It’s an unfortunate reality that many disabled veterans are unable to access the support they need,” Banks said. “Some veterans never even pursue disability compensation, due to the overwhelming costs of legal fees. The Veterans Disability Clinic Fund is an innovative way to help our service men and women while providing law students hands-on experience in their field.”
The legislation would also direct the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to further study the implementation of programs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injuries. The ISDH would be required to review the following topics:
• The best treatments and therapies for PTSD and traumatic brain injury, as well as the types of health-care providers necessary to create this program
• The estimated number of Hoosier veterans who have PTSD or traumatic brain injury
• An analysis of available federal and state funding for this program
• The costs of traumatic brain injury and PTSD among veterans and the economic impact of implementing a program to address these conditions
Additionally, the bill requests that the General Assembly further study the issue of veterans’ benefits during the summer and fall. The study committee would be required to review several areas of services, including veterans’ education, employment, medical care, pensions and compensation.