The Honorable Gerard J. Cassidy, House Chair
The Honorable John C. Velis, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs
State House, Boston

Delivered electronically

Dear Chair Cassidy, Chair Velis, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,

On behalf of cities and towns across the Commonwealth, the MMA wishes to express our appreciation for the opportunity to offer testimony in support of several bill pertaining to veterans benefits before your committee today, including H. 3513, An Act to streamline veterans benefits, S. 2314, An Act to expedite veterans benefits, and H. 3488/S. 2311, An Act providing for timely reimbursement of cities and towns for veterans’ benefits.

In Massachusetts, unlike any other state, the majority of guidance and support for veterans happens at the local level and is provided to any eligible veteran living in the community. Local officials are deeply committed to providing excellent services for veterans, which is why we are supporting legislation to create a system that has more flexibility and is less financially burdensome. These bills would facilitate the delivery of essential services to our veterans.

Currently, cities and towns pay 100% of the cost of benefits to veterans and are later reimbursed by the state at approximately 75%. The reimbursement is one year behind and paid out on a quarterly basis. This system leaves many communities scrambling when unexpected payments arise, presenting a serious cash flow problem, particularly for smaller communities.

H. 3513 and S. 2314 would keep the administration of benefits (the intake, e.g.) within the role of the local or district Veteran’s Service Officer (VSO), but shift the direct payment of those benefits to the Commonwealth. The bills would make no changes to the payment award of benefits under Chapter 115. The local VSO would still be responsible for determining the veteran’s need for benefits and then issuing a payment request to the Commonwealth. This would ensure the important services provided by VSOs continue, while removing municipalities as the financial intermediary.

Streamlining the state’s system for financing benefits paid to veterans in this way is consistent with sound direct payment practices adopted by other state agencies. A single state appropriation for payment of benefits directly to veterans would also simplify the financing and administration of this program with the Executive Office of Veterans’ Services.

H. 3488 and S. 2311 would mitigate the financial burden for communities by requiring local reimbursements be made no later than six months after the date on which such expenditures are certified by the Secretary. While this does not stop local budgets from being dependent on state reimbursement, it does create necessary predictability as a first step.

Thanks to your leadership, Massachusetts is considered a leader when it comes to services for veterans. Passage of these bills would provide municipalities with timely resources, so they can focus exclusively on ensuring the best possible care for our veterans, rather than worrying about adequate reimbursement or mid-year budget shortfalls.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me, MMA Senior Executive and Legislative Director Dave Koffman at, or MMA Legislative Analyst Ali DiMatteo at, at any time.

Thank you very much for your consideration and support of local government.


Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO