WASILLA — Gov. Mike Dunleavy and a group of local legislators gathered at the AM Vets Post 9 in Wasilla on Saturday to sign Senate Bill 40, requiring that those providing services to veterans are required to disclose free veterans benefits services and appeal services through the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The bill was carried by Senator Josh Revak and cosponsored by 15 Senators and six members of the House of Representatives.
“What SB 40 does is it says that we don’t want private sector businesses preying on veterans, and so what we did is we said if you offer fee based services to veterans than you need to disclose that they are also offered by folks that work for the veterans from veteran organizations, for free. So veterans still want to use whatever service they want, they’re more than happy to do that but this way they have to at least know what their options are and it’s good. We want to make sure our veterans have all the information that they need to make the right decisions and this was actually the Governors idea,” said Revak. “I’m honored to be able to carry this bill. Thank you Governor for bringing this forward and for taking care of our veterans. I’m honored to be a part of that and so thankful to be here to celebrate. This is a little step, we have a lot more to do but it’s important that we celebrate these little steps because a lot of little steps and eventually you’ve climbed a mountain, and so we need to celebrate these little steps and every thing we can do to protect vets, that’s worth being celebrated.”
House Minority Leader Representative Cathy Tilton and Representatives Ken McCarty and Kevin McCabe attended the bill signing along with Senator Shelley Hughes, following a signing of House Bill 34 in Palmer on Saturday to rename two bridges along the Glenn Highway to the “Vietnam helicopter pilots Memorial bridge.” Revak and Governor Dunleavy thanked those who had worked on the bill.
“Alaska has the highest per capita of veterans in the entire United States, now I couldn’t be more proud of that fact. I talk to my fellow Governors all the time and when this conversation comes up on military and the veterans, I always bring this up because to me it speaks so much about this state’s culture in terms of supporting it’s veterans,” said Dunleavy. “We’re 245 years old, this country, and it’s my goal and I know its your goal that in another 50 years we’ll be here saying the same thing, another 100 years we’ll be here saying the same thing, and the only reason we’re going to be able to do that is because of the men and women who stand up and fight for us when we need you in our time of need.”