The Senate on June 13 passed a broad veterans services bill, known as the HERO Act, that aims to modernize and increase veterans benefits.

The bill, which resembles the version passed by the House on May 22, is a mix of policy changes and tax incentives.

The bill would:
• Expand the definition of “veteran” for the purposes of some benefits to include those who have served in the National Guard or as a reservist in any branch of the armed forces
• Increase annual payments to disabled veterans from $2,000 to $2,500 over two years
• Increase tax credits for small businesses that hire veterans
• Expand veteran motor vehicle benefits, including waiving veterans plate fees
• Expand veteran property tax exemptions

The Senate added a provision that would require public school districts to offer support services to a military-connected student if their parent or guardian is called to active duty.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill would expand access to mental health services for veterans and would create a working group to review alternative therapies for mental health treatments for veterans, including psychedelic therapies.

The bill was initially filed by Gov. Maura Healey last November.

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