2016 legislative session saw some improvements for Indiana veterans but still a long way to go

March 16, 2016 Karlee Macer

For immediate release:
March 16, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Speedway) entered the 2016 session with a strong agenda centered around improving the lives of Indiana veterans. While most of her legislation moved to the governor’s desk for final approval, Macer said the state has a long way to go before veterans in Indiana receive the treatment they deserve.

Macer contributed to five separate measures affecting veterans that await final approval from the governor. She co-authored four of those bills.

House Bill 1183, a department of child services bill, would allow a parent who is on active duty in the United States military to relinquish guardianship of their child for the duration of their service. The bill helps ensure that children of military members are left in the custody of their assigned guardians.

House Bill 1187 alters the terms of punishment for individuals who lie about their status as an active member or veteran of the United States military, use false military certification or claim to have military honors. The measure will help protect Indiana veterans’ honor from those who would tarnish the reputation of the profession.

“Our veterans deserve respect for the sacrifices they have made for us,” said Macer. “The stolen valor bill will help ensure that those who misrepresent themselves as veterans are held accountable for their actions.”

House Bill 1313, creates a clear definition of who qualifies as a veteran. The bill is designed to ensure that all honorably discharged Indiana servicemen and women have access to the same benefits.

House Bill 1312 defines a veteran for the purpose of qualifying as a veteran owned small business by the Indiana Department of Administration.

Macer also played a significant role in the development of House Bill 1089 which requires the Indiana Director of Veterans Affairs to establish six geographic districts across Indiana, with an appointed service officer for each area.

“The appointment of a veterans’ service officer to each district will help ensure that the programs run smoothly and they receive the care they need,” said Macer.

While Macer saw success in a number of her initiatives, another strong piece of legislation she authored died in committee. House Bill 1057 focused on improving the lives of homeless Indiana National Guard veterans who do not qualify for federal benefits. Many of these members were placed on active duty but did not meet the required military service to receive support from the federal government.

“The fact that we still have veterans who are homeless speaks volumes to the amount of work we still have to do in Indiana to ensure that these individuals are receiving the care they need and deserve,” said Macer. “While we saw some outstanding legislation move forward this session, the fight to improve the lives of our veterans is far from over.

“As we move forward and prepare for the next session, it is essential that Indiana legislators identify the needs of veterans in their district,” continued Macer. “However, it takes the input of our constituents to make this legislation move forward. If you spot a problem with veteran care, contact your district’s representative, let them know what you found and show them that you care about our veterans.”

Since joining the Indiana House of Representatives, Macer has worked with veterans in her district to identify and address the issues they face. Through her tireless efforts on behalf of veterans’ affairs, Macer has presented legislation to draw attention to the needs of women veterans, fight veteran discrimination, and help veterans find jobs and pay for college.