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N.H. House Passes Bill Creating State Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

Peter Biello
Rep. Al Baldasaro speaks at a meeting of the State Veterans Advisory Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.

The New Hampshire House has passed a bill that would create a state Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.

The goal of the bill is to bring all the state's resources for veterans and military personnel under one roof. Right now veterans' resources for education, housing and homelessness, benefits, and medical care are handled by separate entities.

Representative Al Baldasaro of Londonderry is one of the bill's co-sponsors. He says some veterans aren't sure where to go when they need assistance, and Tuesday night he pressed members of the State Veterans Advisory Committee (SVAC) to support the legislation.

"Veterans have no clue where to go in the state. This is why this is long overdue, this bill. I would think every veteran sitting at this table would want not one veteran left behind, and I've seen it too often," said Baldasaro.

Opponents of the bill say they're reluctant to create a commissioner of a new department and argue the bill's goals could be accomplished by giving more authority to the state's Adjutant General.

Dave Kenney, SVAC chair, is opposed to the bill. “The best bang for the buck in solving this issue is to put it under the Adjutant General,” he says, noting that he speaks for himself, not the SVAC.

The bill was referred to the committee on Executive Departments and Administration.

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