Yesterday Commander Mark sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety and Policy Committee asking them to pass SF116 Veteran Restoration and Justice Act. The Commanders letter is below.
To: Senate Judiciary Committee
95 University Ave. W.
Minnesota Senate Bldg., Room 3221
St. Paul, MN 55155
Members of The American Legion in Minnesota are stumped that the Senate voted unanimously for the passage of the Veterans Restorative Justice Act three times in 2020, and now this one committee is holding up the bill.
On Friday, March 12, the bill received a hearing, but no vote was taken. Earlier in the same hearing, you took votes on three other bills.
One of those bills was legislation regarding prisoners with traumatic brain injuries. “People like this should not be in prison” was said. How does a committee pass a bill that is compassionate to convicted criminals, then provide zero help to combat-traumatized veterans? This is shameful.
During the same hearing, committee members roundly agreed to pass a bill they admitted was not perfect. They voted to approve it anyway, move the bill to the next committee. But then your committee had problems with the Veterans Restorative Justice Act, even though it has been adjusted to suit questions in past years and has passed your chamber three times.
What was said in the committee hearing about volunteers in the military “asking for it” was plain wrong. This is an example of why veterans face stereotypes and civilian prejudices upon exiting the military. The brave 18-year-old Minnesotans who regularly join the Armed Forces are recruited, and, though they realize combat can be a possibility, they do not “ask” to be traumatized by war. Even if they did, civilian lawmakers like yourselves should be grateful and help them recover. Without our Veterans, there is no Minnesota Legislature. There is no Minnesota. There is no America.
Uncle Sam broke them. He needs to fix them. On 8 August 2020, then President Trump signed into law, Veteran Treatment Coordination Act, a bipartisan bill offering new resources to state and local governments for veteran treatment courts. The Federal Government is doing their part to help our broken Veterans and now it’s time for our Minnesota Legislators to do their part and provide the path to fix our Veterans! We can give our combat-traumatized veterans restorative sentences. Veterans are not a special interest group. We are the foundation under your feet.
Please take corrective action and pass this bill. Minnesota American Legion’s 67000 members statewide and in your districts are watching your next steps.
The American Legion Department of Minnesota
20W 12th Street, Room 300A, St Paul, MN 55155-2000, Phone: 651.291.1800