January 18, 2022
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) – Governor Phil Murphy today signed several pieces of legislation (A-259, A-1121, A-5694 and A-6012) that support and protect the veteran and armed forces communities of New Jersey. These bills will expand the public service’s preference for veterans, increase penalties for misrepresentation by members of the armed forces, facilitate access to public schooling for dependents of members of the armed forces, and will provide funds to support the commissioning of the new USS New Jersey.
“Our veterans and members of the armed forces have selflessly dedicated their careers and lives in service to our country and our state,” said Governor Murphy. “The legislation I sign today will benefit these brave New Jersey residents and their families. Today, and every day, we are grateful for the sacrifices made by New Jersey’s veterans and reserve and active duty soldiers, and we will continue to support them in any way we can.
“These bills expand support for families planning military moves to New Jersey, as well as veterans aspiring to public service,” said Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Brig. Gen. Lisa Hou, DO “A1121 toughens the stance against veteran status fraud, which is disrespectful to the more than 325,000 proud veterans of our great state. Finally, I hope all residents will share their excitement for the commissioning of the USS New Jersey this year.
The main sponsors of A-259 are Assemblymen Wayne DeAngelo, Raj Mukherji and Daniel Benson, as well as Senators Vin Gopal and Joseph Pennacchio.
“This signing of the bill will help veterans find jobs faster after leaving the armed forces. A stable job in a stable job is one of the best ways for veterans to integrate into life outside of the military,” said Sen. Joe Pennacchio. “It’s a well-deserved benefit for brave men and women making the transition from military to civilian life.”
“Veterans who participated in a military campaign for which a medal was designated or supported combat operations without direct presence in the actual theater of war should not be denied public service preference for their service faithful to our country”, Assembly members Wayne DeAngelo, Raj Mukherji and Dan Benson said in a joint statement. “This legislation will address an unnecessary distinction to help some service members in their pursuit of civilian employment.”
This legislation grants public service preference to military service members who have not served in a theater of operations, but served in a war or conflict for which the federal government authorized a campaign or expedition medal.
The main sponsors of A-1121 are Assembly members Carol Murphy, Ronald Dancer and Sterley Stanley, as well as Senators Joseph Lagana and Joseph Pennacchio.
“Current and former members of our military have protected and served our country to earn their well-deserved benefits,” Assembly members Carol Murphy and Sterley Stanley said in a joint statement. “Those who unfairly present themselves as American veterans, through ‘stolen value’ to take advantage of our system deserve a severe sentence. This measure will ensure that those who break the law and pose as war heroes receive appropriate and improved sentence.
“No one should get a simple slap on the wrist for putting on the uniform to defraud someone,” said Assemblyman Ron Dancer. “As a veteran myself, I find it abhorrent that anyone deceives others for profit by impersonating our proud men and women who serve our country in a sacrificial manner. My goal is that these harsher penalties will deter potential fraudsters.
“Impersonating a member of our volunteer army or a veteran who faithfully served this country and helped protect the freedoms and institutions we hold dear is a shameful act, and one that should carry the highest possible penalty in the limit of the reasonable, said Senator Joseph Lagana. “With this law, we hope to reduce this cynical activity and make the punishment for this deception better suited to the crime.”
“It is inspiring to see veterans who have honorably served our country return home and continue to serve their communities. Unfortunately, there are scammers who portray veterans to claim benefits reserved for those who have truly served,” noted Senator Joe Pennacchio. “This new law increases penalties and helps discourage this despicable behavior.”
This legislation ameliorates certain crimes of impersonating a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces or an organized militia. Under current law, it is a third-degree felony, punishable by a minimum fine of $1,000, for anyone who knowingly, intends to impersonate or deceive for the purpose of obtaining money, property, or other tangible benefit, to misrepresent oneself as a member or veteran of the armed forces of the United States or organized militia or a recipient of any decoration or medal created by the federal and state laws and regulations to honor members or veterans of the United States Armed Forces or organized militia. Under this legislation, these crimes are now upgraded to second degree if the actor obtains money, property or other tangible benefits in the amount of $75,000 or more. If the actor obtains money, property, or other tangible benefits of less than $75,000, then the crime will remain a third-degree felony, punishable by a minimum fine of $1,000.
The main sponsors of A-5694 are Assemblyman Ronald Dancer and Senators Vin Gopal and Fred Madden. Former Assemblymen Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey were the main sponsors of this legislation in the previous legislative session.
“It is a stressful time for families when they receive relocation orders,” said Assemblyman Ron Dancer. “Military families already face many challenges, and the children of these moms and dads in our armed forces face additional difficulties moving to a new school district where everything is unfamiliar. Allowing these students to enter this new school knowing who their teachers are and what classes they will be attending can provide peace of mind for them and their parents.
“Our military families go through a lot of stress when they receive relocation orders, and the strict school enrollment requirements only add to their burden,” said Assembly sponsors Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey. “Failing to allow military members to enroll their children in their scheduled school district until they physically relocate puts those children at risk of missing important deadlines, which can have serious repercussions, such as school summer or a late graduation.
This legislation allows dependents of a service member to enroll in a public school district prior to the service member’s relocation to the district. Under current law, these dependents cannot register in the district until proof of residency has been provided. This legislation allows enrollment upon presentation of a copy of the service member’s relocation orders even if the family has not yet physically moved to the school district. Once enrolled, the child will be permitted to attend classes and receive free services in the same manner as if they were already a resident of the school district.
The main sponsors of A-6012 are Assemblymen William Moen, Carol Murphy and Roy Freiman, and Senators Paul Sarlo and Vin Gopal.
“This appropriation to support the commissioning of the USS New Jersey and the officers and crew assigned to the ship is the right thing to do,” Assembly members Bill Moen, Carol Murphy and Roy Freiman said in a joint statement. “The commissioning of a ship is a historic event that brings together our military, our veterans and the local community with significant economic benefits for the surrounding region. We are proud that the Battleship New Jersey is now a museum and memorial moored on the Camden City waterfront. We will continue to do everything possible to honor our veterans and their families. »
This legislation allocates up to $500,000 from the general fund to the Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Affairs for the commissioning committee of the USS New Jersey. The purpose of the credit is to support the commissioning of the USS New Jersey and the officers and crew assigned to the ship. Contributions to the USS New Jersey Commissioning Committee support traditional Commissioning Week activities, in-state visits by crew members, and improvements to the ship’s habitability for the crew. Expenditure of the appropriate amount is subject to the Adjutant General’s approval of a detailed plan of expenditures to be submitted by the USS New Jersey Commissioning Committee. Any unspent amounts will be donated to support personnel and their families and to fund existing scholarship programs or the establishment of new U.S. Navy scholarship programs.
“First, I would like to take a moment to applaud the governor and state legislatures for recognizing the sacrifices made by veterans and those currently serving,” said Luddie H. Austin, commander of the New Jersey Department of Veterans Affairs of Foreign Wars. “As a veteran and resident of our great state, I am grateful to the governor for recognizing our heroes in the workforce and in society as he seeks to improve veterans’ benefits and rights. I look forward to our healthy relationship as we continue to advocate for all veterans.
“Veterans of Foreign Wars are grateful for the passage and signing of this legislation which will significantly improve employment opportunities for veterans and ensure that the children of our service members receive an uninterrupted education,” said Foreign Wars Veterans Warrant Officer and Quartermaster Ken Hagemann. “The VFW has been advocating for decades that a vet is a vet, regardless of time or conflict. We are pleased that these arbitrary barriers are finally being lifted for state benefits and that all veterans now have the same right to these benefits. We look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature to make New Jersey a place where veterans want to live and thrive.