A bill from Rep. Mike Volz to assist discharged veterans gets unanimous approval from the House

The Washington State House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation from Rep. Mike Volz on Saturday which would help more discharged veterans receive benefits. House Bill 2014 would standardize the requirements relating to “qualifying discharges” to establish eligibility for various benefit programs for veterans.

“This bill would affect a small percentage of service members that did not receive an honorable or dishonorable discharge,” said Volz, R-Spokane. “But this an important issue to determine how service members qualify for benefits and how it aligns with their discharge status. It will not change anyone’s level of service who has already received an honorable discharge.”

Currently, an individual’s veteran status is used as an eligibility requirement for various benefits and assistance programs. Benefits for general service status include, among other things,

  • Veteran homeownership down payment assistance programs.
  • License extensions for licenses issued by the Department of Licensing or the Department of Health.

Veterans who served in a period of war or conflict may also be eligible for additional benefits, including, but not limited to:

  • Higher scoring preference on civil service exams.
  • Participation in a designated shared leave pool program.
  • Property tax relief for senior widows and widowers of veterans.

Under current law, in order to establish eligibility for various benefits and programs, veteran status is generally recognized for a service member who received an honorable discharge or other excusable discharge. House Bill 2014 would add the term “qualifying discharge” to several provisions establishing various benefit programs for veterans, generally replacing references to “honorable discharge.”

The bill’s definition of “qualifying discharge” includes, among other things, an honorable discharge or discharges due to a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I served in the Army with a lot of other young people and some of them received something other than an honorable discharge. They may have made some mistakes, but otherwise they fulfilled their duty,” said Volz. “So, the question is should that moment of poor judgment disqualify them from certain benefits? That’s what this legislation attempts to address. It would change the level of discharge a veteran would qualify for veterans’ benefits.”

The bill would require the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement an outreach program to ensure that veterans are aware of the state veterans’ benefits and programs.

House Bill 2014 now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov