Recently, my colleagues and I in the Ohio Senate approved a bill that will improve the services we offer to our veterans and their families. House Bill 490 was signed into law by Governor Kasich on June 26. In an effort to make service to veterans more efficient, House Bill 490 enables County Veteran Service Offices (CVSOs) to be certified and trained to access a veteran's discharge form known as a DD-214. Veterans need this form in order to apply for any benefits, such as health, education and VA home loans. Current state law prevents CVSOs from having access to this record. This legislation changes that restriction and enables county officers to proactively assist veterans with their eligibility to benefits. Shockingly, if a veteran misplaces his or her DD-214 it could take months to receive a copy from the U.S. Department of Veteran Services. That is too long to make our veterans wait for benefits they have earned. Now, we will be able to help veterans obtain their discharge form more quickly. House Bill 490 also specifies that veterans, their spouses and their children are eligible for in-state tuition at any Ohio public university, even if the veteran was not an Ohio resident prior to service. Veterans must have served as least one year, have been honorably discharged, or died while serving. If a veteran qualifies, the federal Post-9/11 GI Bill will pick up the cost of in-state tuition at any Ohio public university, providing a much needed thanks to our veterans. Some other provisions in House Bill 490 include: - Updates to prevent an individual from fraudulently changing his or her discharge status to wrongfully obtain any benefits. - Clarifies that only honorably discharged veterans are able to apply for and receive federal and state services. - Adds a member of the National Guard to the state's Veterans Advisory Committee. - Updates the Ohio Code of Military Justice (OCMJ) to bring it in-line with the federal Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). A few examples of the modernizations include permitting a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, creating a Court of Military Appeals, and deleting numerous non-military offenses better left to civilian court. - Grants active military personnel additional time to satisfy any continuing education requirements for their occupational licenses. - Expands the reemployment rights of nonteaching school employees who go on active military duty. As a co-sponsor of this legislation, I believe each of these common sense provisions will improve Ohio law and benefit our service men and women. With the passage of House Bill 490, Ohio can show appreciation for the men and women who so bravely serve our country. If you would like to read the full legislation, you can visit and click on the bill number from the 129th General Assembly. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-0626 or at or by writing State Senator Scott Oelslager, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215.
Senator Oelslager represents Ohio's 29th District which contains a portion of Stark County. He serves as Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services & Aging Committee.
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