Revision: Dec. 4, 2019, 8:15 a.m.
SB 208 - FINAL VERSION
SENATE BILL 208
SPONSORS: Sen. Giuda, Dist 2; Sen. D'Allesandro, Dist 20; Sen. Feltes, Dist 15; Rep. Graham, Hills. 7
COMMITTEE: Executive Departments and Administration
This bill renames the adjutant general's department to the department of military affairs and veterans services. This bill establishes divisions in the department of military affairs and veterans services, including the office of veterans services which was formerly RSA 115.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
06/13/2019 2457EBA 19-0178
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
273:1 Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services. Amend the chapter heading of RSA 110-B to read as follows:
[THE MILITIA] DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AFFAIRS AND VETERANS SERVICES
273:2 Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services; the Militia. Amend RSA 110-B:1 to read as follows:
110-B:1 Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services.
I. The department shall consist of the militia which shall include the army national guard, air national guard, the inactive national guard, the state guard, and the unorganized militia, and veterans services which shall include the division of veterans services, the state veterans cemetery, the division of community based military programs, the veterans council, and the military leadership team.
II. The department shall be led by an adjutant general who shall be the commissioner of the department of military affairs and veterans services.
III. The department may receive, on behalf of the state, all donations and bequests made to promote the welfare of military service members, veterans, and their families.
110-B:1-a Composition of the Militia.
I. The militia shall be divided into 3 classes, namely the national guard, the state guard, and the unorganized militia.
II. The national guard shall consist of an army national guard, an air national guard, and an inactive national guard. As used in this chapter, the term "national guard" shall mean and refer to the army national guard and the air national guard unless otherwise indicated.
III. The state guard shall consist of those persons serving in accordance with the provisions of RSA 111.
IV. The unorganized militia shall consist of all able-bodied residents of the state who are 18 years of age or older, who are, or have declared their intention to become, citizens of the United States, and who are not serving in the national guard or the state guard.
V. When authorized by the laws and regulations of the United States, there shall be an additional section of the state guard to be known as the New Hampshire naval militia.
II. The adjutant general shall be the chief of staff to the governor and shall be the executive head of the [adjutant general's] department of military affairs and veterans services. The adjutant general may perform any act authorized by this chapter or by the regulations issued pursuant thereto through or with the aid of such officers of the national guard or other personnel as the adjutant general may designate. The adjutant general shall exercise and perform all powers, functions and duties which are or may be imposed by the laws and regulations of the United States. It shall be the duty of the adjutant general to direct the planning and employment of the forces of the national guard in carrying out their state military mission; to establish unified command of state forces whenever they shall be jointly engaged; to submit such written reports to the governor as the governor may prescribe; and to perform such other duties as the governor may direct. Whenever the governor and those who would act in succession to the governor under the constitution and laws of the state shall be unable to perform the duties of commander-in-chief, the adjutant general shall command the militia.
III. The adjutant general is authorized and empowered, subject to the approval of the governor and council, to contract with any person or private or public agency to provide group life or disability insurance coverage for members of the national guard, while on active state duty, within the limits of appropriations made for the national guard.
IV. The adjutant general shall advocate for and promote the welfare of military service members, veterans, and their families. The adjutant general shall enhance, coordinate, and oversee the benefits and services offered by organizations within the state of New Hampshire and direct veterans to appropriate benefits and services offered by such organizations. The department of military affairs and veterans services shall serve as a clearinghouse for research, data, and analysis, to initiate and support public education and awareness campaigns. The adjutant general shall serve as a liaison between the federal government and the governor on issues relevant to the department’s mission, and represent the department at various state and national conventions, conferences, and public functions and provide supervision to the department public relations program.
I. Assume full responsibility for the [adjutant general's] department of military affairs and veterans services in the absence of the adjutant general.
II. Assist the adjutant general to implement the department's duties and responsibilities.
III. Serve as principal liaison to senior military officials, various state and federal officials, the legislature, local governments, and community groups.
IV. Provide overall guidance and direction for state operations including business administration, facilities management, division of veterans services, the division of community based military programs, and the state veterans cemetery.
110-B:83 Composition of Veterans Services.
I. Veterans services shall be divided into 3 classes, namely the division of veterans services, the state veterans cemetery, and the division of community based military programs. Additionally there will be 2 advisory bodies, namely the veterans council and the military leadership team.
II. The division of veterans services shall assist veterans who are residents of this state or their dependents to secure all benefits or preferences to which they may be entitled under any state or federal laws or regulations.
III. The state veterans cemetery shall provide and maintain a dignified final-resting place to honor all veterans and eligible dependents which expresses the state's gratitude for their service to the country.
IV. The division of community based military programs shall collaborate, coordinate, and communicate with military and civilian provider groups in the delivery of services to New Hampshire veterans, service members, and their families.
V. The military leadership team and veterans council shall serve as advisory bodies and shall provide advice and guidance to the adjutant general regarding the delivery of services to veterans and military service members and their families.
110-B:84 Division of Veterans Services. The division of veterans services under the supervision of a director of veterans services:
I. Shall assist veterans who are residents of this state or their dependents to secure all benefits or preferences to which they may be entitled under any state or federal laws or regulations. The division shall employ such assistance as may be necessary, within the limits of the appropriation made therefor, subject to the rules of the state division of personnel.
II. Shall biennially, beginning July 1, 2019, publish and distribute a state veteran’s handbook which shall include the following information:
(a) Points of contact for all federal, state, local, and nonprofit veterans agencies, departments, councils, hospitals, clinics, and other organizations offering services, benefits, and programs to New Hampshire veterans, including addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses.
(b) A description of the services, benefits, and programs offered by each entity listed under this subparagraph.
III. May accept and expend for purposes of publishing and distributing the state veterans’ handbook, any donations, grants, bequests, and contributions which become available for such purposes.
110-B:85 Director of the Division of Veterans Services.
I. The adjutant general shall, with the approval of the governor and council, appoint a director of the division of veterans services, who shall be a veteran as defined by RSA 21:50.
II. The director shall:
(a) Supervise the activities of a statewide service delivery structure which assists veterans and family members in identifying eligibility for veterans' benefits, filing claims, coordinating benefits with other state and federal agencies, and reviewing claims decisions for appeals or waivers of unfavorable decisions.
(b) Identify and develop legislative proposals to improve delivery of services, review and monitor legislation introduced by others, testify at hearings, and prepare legislative fiscal note work sheets. The director shall coordinate, implement, and administer programs mandated by the legislature.
(c) Prepare the agency budget and administer and monitor expenditures for the division of veterans services.
(d) Develop and coordinate agency programs in conjunction with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as well as other federal, state, local, and private organizations.
(e) Represent the adjutant general at various state and national conventions, conferences, and public functions and provide supervision to the division of veterans services' public relations program.
(f) Perform such other duties as the adjutant general shall determine.
110-B:86 Copies of Public Records. When a copy of any public record is required by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be used in determining the eligibility of any person to participate in benefits made available by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the official custodian of such public record shall without charge provide the applicant for such benefits or any person acting on his or her behalf or the authorized representative of the Department of Veterans Affairs with a certified copy of such record; provided, however, that in any case where the copy is made by a town clerk whose official income is derived in part or entirely from fees, a charge for services hereunder shall be made and the town shall reimburse the clerk for the charges.
110-B:87 Donations and Bequests. The division of veterans services may receive, on behalf of the state, all donations and bequests that may be made to support the delivery of state veterans services programs.
110-B:88 Division of Community Based Military Programs. The division of community based military programs, under the supervision of an administrator of community based military programs shall facilitate military and civilian partnerships by collaborating, coordinating, and communicating with military and civilian provider groups in the delivery of services to New Hampshire veterans, service members, and their families. The administrator shall:
I. Develop and implement innovative, effective, and sustainable provider engagement projects to increase education, outreach, and engagement with military-access resources.
II. Integrate military and civilian community and coalition networks and strengthen military-civilian community supports by integrating those supports into civilian structures.
III. Advocate for federal and state funding to target system changes to improve services.
IV. Ensure cost efficiency through decreased overlap, service redundancy and increased service fidelity.
V. Co-develop and provide oversight for NewHampshire's care coordination, including services and supports addressing substance misuse, homelessness, suicide prevention, mental health, sexual military trauma, unemployment, domestic violence, education, and legal support.
VI. Authorize, evaluate, and monitor the administration of federal and state grants.
VII. Initiate and facilitate state planning processes to improve access, navigation, and coordination of military-civilian services and support.
VIII. Compile and analyze program statistics and metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of the system of care, initiatives and special projects, including the efforts of legislative, statewide, and community coalitions across the state.
110-B:89 Council Established.
I. There shall be a state veterans council of 4 members to be appointed by the governor and council, 3 of whom shall be veterans as defined by RSA 21:50. The fourth member shall be a family member of a veteran or family member of a currently serving member of the armed forces. All council members shall be citizens of New Hampshire. Of the first appointments of veterans under this section one shall be appointed for a term of 3 years, one for a term of 2 years, one for a term of one year and thereafter each shall be appointed for a term of 3 years. The family member shall be appointed for a term of 3 years. Each member of the council shall hold office until a successor is appointed and qualified. Any vacancy in the council shall be filled by the governor and council for the unexpired term.
II. The members of the council shall meet not less than semi-annually to review activities of the division of veterans services and provide guidance to and make recommendations for improvement on the adequacy and delivery of veterans programs to the adjutant general. The adjutant general may designate one of the members to serve as liaison to the state veterans advisory committee.
110-B:90 Military Leadership Team. There is hereby established a military leadership team which shall serve in an advisory capacity and shall provide advice and guidance to the adjutant general regarding the delivery of services to veterans and military service members in New Hampshire. The military leadership team shall choose a chairman, vice-chairman, and a secretary from their membership. The team may, by a majority vote of its members, adopt bylaws governing the management and operation of the team. The military leadership team shall consist of the following members:
I. The adjutant general or his or her designated representative.
II. The director of the division of veterans services.
III. The members of the veterans council.
IV. The administrator of the division of community based military programs.
V. Representatives of organizations which provide services to veterans and military service members in New Hampshire, appointed by the adjutant general.
VI. Members of the private sector who have an interest in serving service members, veterans and their families.
VII. A family member of veteran or currently serving member of the Armed Forces.
VII. "Office of veterans services" means the [state office] division of veterans services established pursuant to RSA 110-B.
273:7 Replace Term. Replace "office of veterans services" or "state office of veterans services" with "division of veterans services" in the following RSA sections: RSA 21:50, I(b)(24); 72:29, VII; 94:1-a, I(b), grade CC; 115-A:10; 115-A:14; 115-A:17; 115-A:21; 115-B:5; 115-D:2, I(e); 261-C:2, III; 261-C:3; 261-C:3-a; 261-C:4, II; 261-C:7; 358-A:2, XVII; 465:3; 465:5; 465:11; 651:4-b, II(a).
Approved: July 19, 2019
Effective Date: September 17, 2019