A week ago, Jeff Latas posted about the importance of SB1176, the Military Relief Fund legislation. Now Rep. Pat Fleming (D-Sierra Vista), a member of the House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee, has a letter to the editor in the Sierra Vista Herald discussing the bill and asking for active support of its passage.
Senate Bill 1176 addresses the red tape around Arizona’s Military Family Relief Fund that prevents troops and their families from receiving much deserved benefits.
The Arizona Military Family Relief Fund is administered by the Department of Veterans Services and was established in 2007 for the purpose of helping military families who suffer from the hardships presented when a loved one is injured or killed while serving our country.
Many generous individuals and businesses have donated to the fund over the past two years (you can still contribute at www.azmfrf.gov). Nearly $1.1 million is available to support Arizona’s military families who have sacrificed for us, but sadly, to date, only $20,000 has been distributed. Eligibility rules for the fund remain too stringent.
For example, some Arizona families have been ruled ineligible because the rules require that a service member be deployed from an Arizona military base. While the intention was to help Arizonans who were serving, it has unfortunately excluded residents who were deployed from non-Arizona bases.
Senate Bill 1176 will remedy this problem, but no action has been taken on the bill. It is difficult to understand why this simple fix has not been passed. Despite our current budget crisis, helping these service members and their families will cost the state nothing. A similar effort for reform failed last year. This week I was joined by veterans and my colleagues who stood together and said, “the time for waiting has ended.”
We are calling on the governor and the Legislature to deliver reform for the Military Family Relief Fund before the end of the legislative session.
Our men and women are still fighting two wars overseas, and when they return to Arizona, I would like to see our service members in need given the assistance they deserve.
Please call your legislator (find them at www.azleg.gov) and tell them to support passage of Senate Bill 1176. Our troops do not deserve to wait until next year.
Rep. Pat Fleming, D-Sierra Vista