Indiana now taking care of those who serve
From the World War II veteran down the street, to young men and women in our community currently serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe, the impact of veterans transcends generations. As we prepare to observe another Veterans Day, I’m thankful to have had an opportunity to support Senate Enrolled Act 480 earlier this year, one of the most comprehensive veterans benefits bills since the end of the Vietnam War.
Senate Enrolled Act 480 protects, rewards and remembers Hoosier veterans in a variety of ways. It exempts military pay earned while serving in combat from taxation. It allows in-state tuition rates for soldiers assigned here from other states. It also establishes a spouse employment program.
The legislation also reaches out to so many veterans who are still hurting today as a result of their sacrifices of yesterday. It increases the maximum allowable state income tax deductions on retirement pay and survivor’s benefits from $2,000 to $5,000 per year. It could be $10,000 on couples filing jointly. The increase restores the full value of this deduction, which has been eroded by inflation since it was first introduced in 1977. The legislation also established a Veterans Affairs Trust Fund to provide assistance to veterans and their families.
Other components of the legislation include:
Granting high school diplomas to Hoosier veterans who left high school before graduation to serve in either Korea or Vietnam; and Allowing in-state tuition rates for out-of-state soldiers assigned to Indiana and establishing a special program assisting their spouses to efficiently transfer state licenses for professions like teaching, nursing and real estate.
Like all Veterans Day observances, a mixture of emotions prevails – thanksgiving, pride, respect and sorrow. I’m grateful to all who have served and continue to serve. SEA 480 is the least we can do for those who give so much for our country.
Sen. David Long (R-Fort Wayne) is President Pro-Tem of the Indiana Senate. He serves District 16, which includes portions of Fort Wayne.
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