CHAPTER 506

VETERANS

Table of Contents

Sec. 27-102l. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Residential Services facility. Office of Advocacy and Assistance. Powers and duties. Regulations.

Sec. 27-103. Definitions.

Sec. 27-135. Local veterans' advisory committee. Municipal veterans' representative.


PART I

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

Sec. 27-102l. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Residential Services facility. Office of Advocacy and Assistance. Powers and duties. Regulations. (a) There shall be a Department of Veterans Affairs. The Veterans Residential Services facility, as defined in subsection (b) of section 27-103, shall be within the department and located in Rocky Hill. The department head shall be the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, who shall be appointed by the Governor in accordance with the provisions of sections 4-5 to 4-8, inclusive, with the powers and duties prescribed therein.

(b) (1) The commissioner may appoint a manager to administer an Office of Advocacy and Assistance for the aid and benefit of veterans and their spouses, eligible dependents and family members. The office shall have a staff of not less than eight men and women, including six veterans' service officers, and clerical personnel. The manager and veterans' service officers shall be veterans, as defined in subsection (a) of section 27-103, or veterans who were awarded the armed forces expeditionary medal for service by the armed forces.

(2) (A) The manager shall develop a training module on assisting and serving women veterans with regard to state or federal services or benefits and identifying and advising such veterans of community or nonprofit programs focused on assisting and serving such veterans. The manager shall hold and provide instruction for an annual training session, in accordance with such module, to each veterans' service officer and any municipal veterans' representative, as described in subsection (b) of section 27-135, or representative from an Operation Academic Support for Incoming Service Members center at a public institution of higher education in this state.

(B) At least one of the veterans' service officers shall be a woman having a demonstrated interest in the concerns of women veterans, who shall be responsible for addressing those concerns, and, effective upon the next opening of a veterans' service officer position occurring on or after July 1, 2010, at least two of the veterans' service officers shall be individuals having bilingual proficiency in English and Spanish, within existing authorized positions. Each veterans' service officer shall (i) successfully complete a course in veterans' benefits not later than one year after commencement of employment, (ii) attend the training session described in subparagraph (A) of this subdivision, and (iii) be assigned to one of the five congressional districts of the state.

(3) The office staff shall, at least twice annually, conduct a training course for any municipal veterans' representative. The office staff shall include in such training course a summary of state and federal services and benefits, the duties to be carried out by each municipal veterans' representative, as described in subsection (a) of section 27-135, and any assistance the office staff may provide to any municipal veterans' representative related to such duties.

(4) (A) The office shall develop a written outreach plan identifying (i) strategies for conducting outreach to veterans and their spouses, eligible dependents and family members for purposes of providing assistance in claims for veterans' services or benefits, and (ii) to the extent possible, specific events and other opportunities to provide such assistance that are sponsored by the office or in which the office is participating. The office shall update such written outreach plan as necessary to improve the efficacy of its outreach efforts.

(B) The manager and each veterans' service officer shall electronically track information relating to outreach conducted or attended by the office, including, but not limited to, the title or type of any outreach event conducted or attended and the number of veterans or their spouses, eligible dependents or family members to whom substantive services or referrals were provided.

(C) The office shall utilize the notifications received from the administrator of each nursing home and assisted living facility in the state, pursuant to subdivision (2) of subsection (c) of this section, to develop an annual schedule for each veterans' service officer to visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The office shall compile any information collected as a result of such visits and provide quarterly reports on such information to the Board of Trustees for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(D) The office shall provide quarterly reports to the Board of Trustees for the Department of Veterans Affairs on (i) concerns raised by veterans or their spouses, eligible dependents or family members, which concerns shall be summarized by type, frequency and resolution, (ii) petitions filed by veterans or their spouses, eligible dependents or family members received by the commissioner under section 27-102l(d)-54 of the regulations of Connecticut state agencies for the four preceding months, and (iii) copies of any such petitions.

(c) In addition to the powers and duties prescribed under section 4-8, the commissioner shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) To prepare studies and collect information concerning facilities and services available to members of the armed forces, veterans or their spouses, eligible dependents or family members, including facilities and services for veterans who may have been exposed to a Vietnam herbicide during their periods of military service;

(2) To require that the administrator of each nursing home and assisted living facility in the state notify the Office of Advocacy and Assistance not later than April 1, 2017, and every six months thereafter, of any new resident in such nursing home or assisted living facility who is a veteran or a spouse, eligible dependent or family member of a veteran, provided each such nursing home or assisted living facility shall not release the identity of any such new resident to the office without the consent of the new resident. As used in this subdivision, “new resident” means a resident of whom such nursing home or assisted living facility has not previously notified the Office of Advocacy and Assistance;

(3) To cooperate with service agencies and organizations throughout the state in disseminating and furnishing counsel and assistance of benefit to residents of this state who are or have been members of the armed forces or their spouses or eligible dependents, which will indicate the availability of: (A) Educational training and retraining facilities; (B) health, medical, rehabilitation and housing services and facilities; (C) employment and reemployment services; (D) provisions of federal, state and local laws affording financial rights, privileges and benefits; and (E) other matters of similar nature;

(4) To assist veterans and their spouses, eligible dependents and family members in the preparation, presentation, proof and establishment of such claims, privileges, rights and other benefits accruing to them under federal, state and local laws;

(5) To cooperate with all national, state and local governmental and private agencies securing or offering services or any benefits to veterans or their spouses or eligible dependents;

(6) To develop and prepare a long-range plan and mission statement for the Veterans Residential Services facility and Office of Advocacy and Assistance;

(7) To review all appeals made by veterans or their spouses, eligible dependents or family members and render the final decision thereon regarding the denial of admission to any program or the refusal to render any service or benefit which is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the discharge or transfer from any such program or any disciplinary action taken while participating in any such program;

(8) If the Veterans Residential Services facility closes or ceases to provide housing to veterans, to provide or arrange for housing to any veteran residing at said facility or receiving care or treatment at the Healthcare Center, as defined in subsection (b) of section 27-103, on the date of such closure or on the date said facility ceases to provide housing to veterans; and

(9) To publish on the Internet extensive and reliable data regarding women veterans, including, but not limited to, federal and state services and benefits, current challenges and notable women veterans and their contributions.

(d) The commissioner shall adopt, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, and enforce such regulations and procedures for the operation, administration and management of the department and all programs and services under the jurisdiction of the department, including, but not limited to, procedures relating to admission and discharge or transfer of veterans in the Veterans Residential Services facility, a per diem fee schedule for programs, services and benefits provided by said facility, and the participation of eligible family members in programs or services provided by said facility. The commissioner shall amend such regulations as necessary, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to allow residents of said facility and relatives or authorized representatives of such residents to file a written complaint regarding policies, procedures and administrative decisions of said facility. Such amended regulations shall include a procedure for filing such complaints, including deadlines by which complaints must be received, investigated and acted upon. The commissioner shall submit proposed regulations for public comment pursuant to section 4-168 not later than ninety days after July 1, 2015.

(P.A. 86-175, S. 1, 4; P.A. 87-155, S. 1; 87-543, S. 8, 9; P.A. 88-285, S. 1, 35; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 91-12, S. 37, 55; P.A. 03-170, S. 6; P.A. 04-169, S. 3; P.A. 07-97, S. 1; P.A. 10-21, S. 2; P.A. 13-34, S. 1; P.A. 15-197, S. 1, 5; P.A. 16-68, S. 2; 16-167, S. 1; 16-192, S. 1; P.A. 17-36, S. 1, 2; P.A. 19-148, S. 2.)

History: P.A. 87-155 amended Subsec. (b) to permit veterans awarded the armed forces expeditionary medal to be service officers in the department; P.A. 87-543 amended Subsec. (c)(1) to authorize studies and the collection of information for facilities and services for veterans who may have been exposed to a Vietnam herbicide; P.A. 88-285 amended Subsec. (a) to provide that the veterans' home and hospital be within the department, amended Subsec. (b) to delete provision re location of offices, to require commissioner to appoint a deputy to administer a veterans' assistance unit which shall have a staff of at least eight persons and to make technical changes, added Subsec. (c)(6) and (7) re development of a long-range plan and mission statement for the home and hospital and the unit and review of appeals made by veterans or their family members, and added Subsec. (d) re adoption of regulations for the operation, administration and management of the department and all programs under its jurisdiction; June Sp. Sess. P.A. 91-12 in Subsec. (b) renamed the veterans' assistance unit the veterans' advocacy and assistance unit; P.A. 03-170 amended Subsec. (b) by changing number of congressional districts from six to five, effective June 26, 2003; P.A. 04-169 amended Subsec. (a) to require the Veterans' Home to be located in Rocky Hill, amended Subsec. (b) to authorize the commissioner to appoint a unit head in lieu of requiring appointment of a deputy to administer veterans' advocacy and assistance unit and to require the unit head to be a veteran, eliminating reference to department head and the deputy commissioner, changed the name of the Veterans' Home and Hospital to the Veterans' Home throughout and made technical changes, effective June 1, 2004; P.A. 07-97 amended Subsec. (b) to require at least one service officer position, upon an opening occurring on or after July 1, 2007, to be filled by an individual having bilingual proficiency in English and Spanish, effective July 1, 2007; P.A. 10-21 amended Subsec. (b) by replacing “2007” with “2010” and increasing number of required service officers having bilingual proficiency in English and Spanish to 2 individuals, effective May 5, 2010; P.A. 13-34 amended Subsec. (b) to add provision re annual training course for city or town employee designated a veterans' service contact person; P.A. 15-197 added Subsec. (c)(8) re commissioner's duty to provide housing to veteran residents, effective July 2, 2015, and amended Subsec. (d) by adding provision re adoption of regulations concerning resident complaints, effective July 1, 2015; P.A. 16-68 amended Subsec. (b) by designating existing provisions re appointing unit head as Subdiv. (1) and amending same to delete provision re annual training course for city or town employee, and by adding provisions, codified by the Revisors as Subdivs. (3) and (4), re training course for designated veterans' contact persons and re outreach plan and information, visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities and quarterly reports, amended Subsec. (c)(2) by replacing provision re commissioner to conduct interviews in nursing homes or hospitals with provision re notification of new resident in nursing home or assisted living facility who is a veteran or a spouse, eligible dependent or family member of a veteran, and made technical changes; P.A. 16-167 replaced “Department of Veterans' Affairs” with “Department of Veterans Affairs”, replaced references to Veterans' Home with references to Veterans Residential Services facility, replaced references to veterans' advocacy and assistance unit with references to Office of Advocacy and Assistance, amended Subsec. (b) by replacing “unit head” with “manager” and replacing “service officers” with “veterans' service officers”, amended Subsec. (c) by adding “or family members” in Subdiv. (1) and replacing provision re home or health care facility with provision re Healthcare Center in Subdiv. (8), and made technical changes, effective July 1, 2016; P.A. 16-192 amended Subsec. (b) by designating existing provisions re advocacy and assistance unit as Subdiv. (1) and amending same to replace “service officers” with “veterans' service officers”, adding Subdiv. (2)(A) re training on assisting and serving women veterans, and designating existing provisions re service officers as Subdiv. (2)(B) and amending same to add provision re attending training session described in Subpara. (A), amended Subsec. (c) to add Subdiv. (9) re Internet publication of extensive and reliable data re women veterans, and made technical changes; P.A. 17-36 amended Subsec. (b) to replace “unit head” with “manager” in Subdivs. (2)(A) and (4)(B), replace “within one year of” with “not later than one year after” in Subdiv. (2)(B)(i), and make technical changes in Subdiv. (4), and amended Subsecs. (b) and (c)(2) to replace references to veterans' advocacy and assistance unit with references to Office of Advocacy and Assistance; P.A. 19-148 amended Subsec. (b) to replace references to veterans' service contact person with municipal veterans' representative and made a technical change.

PART Ia

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 27-103. Definitions. (a) As used in the general statutes, except chapter 504, and except as otherwise provided: (1) “Armed forces” means the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force and any reserve component thereof, including the Connecticut National Guard performing duty as provided in Title 32 of the United States Code, as amended from time to time; (2) “veteran” means any person honorably discharged from, or released under honorable conditions from active service in, the armed forces; (3) “service in time of war” means service of ninety or more cumulative days during a period of war unless separated from service earlier because of an injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty or a service-connected disability rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, except that if the period of war lasted less than ninety days, “service in time of war” means service for the entire such period of war unless separated because of any such injury or disability; (4) “period of war” has the same meaning as provided in 38 USC 101, as amended from time to time, except that the “Vietnam Era” means the period beginning on February 28, 1961, and ending on July 1, 1975, in all cases; and “period of war” shall include service while engaged in combat or a combat support role in Lebanon, July 1, 1958, to November 1, 1958, or September 29, 1982, to March 30, 1984; Grenada, October 25, 1983, to December 15, 1983; Operation Earnest Will, involving the escort of Kuwaiti oil tankers flying the United States flag in the Persian Gulf, July 24, 1987, to August 1, 1990; and Panama, December 20, 1989, to January 31, 1990, and shall include service during such periods with the armed forces of any government associated with the United States; and (5) “qualifying condition” means a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury made by, or an experience of military sexual trauma, as described in 38 USC 1720D, as amended from time to time, disclosed to, an individual licensed to provide health care services at a United States Department of Veterans Affairs facility.

(b) As used in this part, “Veterans Residential Services facility” means the Veterans Residential Services facility in Rocky Hill maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs that provides temporary and other supported residential services for qualifying veterans; “hospital” means any incorporated hospital or tuberculosis sanatorium in the state and any state chronic disease hospital, or hospital for persons with mental illness; “Healthcare Center” means the hospital in Rocky Hill maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs; “veteran” means any veteran, as defined in subsection (a) of this section, who is a resident of this state; “eligible dependent” means any parent, wife or husband, or child of a veteran who has no adequate means of support; and “eligible family member” means any parent, brother or sister, wife or husband, or child or children under eighteen years of age, of any veteran whose cooperation in the program is integral to the treatment of the veteran.

(1949 Rev., S. 2925; September, 1950, 1953, S. 1635d; 1957, P.A. 163, S. 29; February, 1965, P.A. 157, S. 2; 1969, P.A. 163, S. 1; P.A. 75-483, S. 2, 10; P.A. 77-424, S. 2; P.A. 88-285, S. 2, 35; P.A. 91-2, S. 6, 8; 91-213, S. 6, 8; 91-407, S. 19, 42; P.A. 94-245, S. 13, 46; P.A. 95-300; P.A. 99-272, S. 2; P.A. 00-131, S. 2; P.A. 03-85, S. 1; P.A. 04-169, S. 5; P.A. 06-153, S. 2; P.A. 09-117, S. 1; P.A. 13-139, S. 30; P.A. 16-167, S. 3; P.A. 18-47, S. 1; 18-72, S. 31; P.A. 19-33, S. 1.)

History: 1965 act provided for service in defined Vietnam territory and actions and the Dominican Republic after April 27, 1965; 1969 act deleted foregoing amendment and substituted in essence during the period between January 1, 1964, and such date to be determined as date of termination of Vietnam era; P.A. 75-483 deleted foregoing amendment and substituted “the Vietnam era, January 1, 1964 to July 1, 1975”; P.A. 77-424 added qualification to service in Subdiv. (3) “of ninety or more days unless separated from service earlier because of a service connected disability-rated by the veterans administration”; P.A. 88-285 amended Subsec. (a) to change the date of termination of Korean hostilities from October 27, 1953, to January 31, 1955, and Subsec. (b) to add definitions of “eligible dependent” and “eligible family member”; P.A. 91-2 amended Subsec. (a) by adding service during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm to Subdiv. (3); P.A. 91-213 amended Subsec. (a) by changing the beginning of the period of service during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm from August 7, 1990, to August 2, 1990; P.A. 91-407 amended Subsec. (a)(3) by adding exception re war or campaign lasting for less than 90 days and added service during peace-keeping mission in Lebanon, invasion of Grenada, Operation Earnest Will and invasion of Panama; P.A. 94-245 amended Subsec. (a) to add a specific termination date for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, effective June 2, 1994; P.A. 95-300 amended Subsec. (a) to change the beginning of the Vietnam era to December 22, 1961 from January 1, 1964; P.A. 99-272 amended Subsec. (a)(3) to add the Lebanon conflict, July 1, 1958, to November 1, 1958; the Berlin Airlift, August 14, 1961, to June 1, 1962; and to change the Vietnam era commencement date from December 22, 1961 to February 28, 1961; P.A. 00-131 amended Subsec. (a) to redefine “service in time of war” by adding dates of active duty service in South Korea demilitarized zone, Somalia and Bosnia; P.A. 03-85 amended Subsec. (a)(3) by redefining “service in time of war” to replace references to specific wars, campaigns or other military operations commencing with the Spanish-American War and ending with Bosnia with reference to a “period of war”, as defined in 38 USC 101, as amended, with exception for the “Vietnam Era” and including service while engaged in combat or a combat support role in Lebanon, Grenada, Operation Earnest Will and Panama, effective June 3, 2003; P.A. 04-169 amended Subsec. (b) to change the name of the Veterans' Home and Hospital to the Veterans' Home, effective June 1, 2004; P.A. 06-153 amended Subsec. (a) to redefine “armed forces” to include reserves, including the Connecticut National Guard, redefine “service in time of war” by deleting references to “campaign or other operation” and replacing “war” with “period of war” and make technical changes, and made a technical change in Subsec. (b); P.A. 09-117 amended Subsec. (a) to redefine “service in time of war” in Subdiv. (3) and “period of war” in Subdiv. (4), effective June 8, 2009; P.A. 13-139 amended Subsec. (b) by substituting “or hospital for persons with mental illness” for “mental hospital or training school for the mentally retarded” and making technical changes; P.A. 16-167 amended Subsec. (b) to replace definition of “home” with definition of “Veterans Residential Services facility”, define “Healthcare Center”, delete reference to service in time of war in definition of “veteran” and make technical changes, effective July 1, 2016; P.A. 18-47 amended Subsec. (a) to replace “Veterans' Administration” with “United States Department of Veterans Affairs” in Subdiv. (3), add “from time to time” in Subdiv. (4), and add Subdiv. (5) re definition of “qualifying condition”; P.A. 18-72 amended Subsec. (a) to add “as amended from time to time” in Subdiv. (1), to replace “Veterans' Administration” with “United States Department of Veterans Affairs” in Subdiv. (3) and add “from time to time” in Subdiv. (4); P.A. 19-33 amended Subsec. (a)(3) to redefine “service in time of war” and amended Subsec. (b) to redefine “veteran”.

Sec. 27-135. Local veterans' advisory committee. Municipal veterans' representative. (a) Any city or town, either separately or with one or more other cities and towns, may, by ordinance, establish a local veterans' advisory committee which shall have the responsibility of carrying out locally the duties and purposes of this section and, within their charter powers and as otherwise provided by law, may make available to such local committees the necessary funds to carry out their duties and responsibilities. The committee may (1) act as the coordinating agency in all matters concerning veterans and their dependents, coordinating the activities of public and private facilities concerned with veterans' reemployment, education, rehabilitation and adjustment to peacetime living; (2) cooperate with all national, state and local governmental and private agencies in securing services and benefits to which a veteran or his dependents may be entitled; (3) use the services and facilities of the veterans organizations so far as possible to carry out the purposes of this section; and (4) encourage and coordinate vocational training services for veterans.

(b) (1) Any city or town that has not established its own local veterans' advisory committee separate from one or more other cities or towns pursuant to subsection (a) of this section and does not otherwise provide funding for a veterans' service officer shall designate (A) a city or town employee, or (B) a volunteer who is a resident of such city or town, and (i) is a veteran, as defined in subsection (a) of section 27-103, or (ii) has practical experience handling veterans' issues, to serve as a municipal veterans' representative in such city or town. The Commissioner of Veterans Affairs shall annually send to the chief executive officer of any such city or town an electronic notification of such chief executive officer's duty to so designate a city or town employee or volunteer in accordance with this subsection. Such chief executive officer shall, not later than thirty days after receipt of such notification, submit to the Office of Advocacy and Assistance, as described in subsection (b) of section 27-102l, the name and electronic mail address of the city or town employee or volunteer so designated. As used in this subdivision, “chief executive officer” means the officer described in section 7-193.

(2) Each municipal veterans' representative shall carry out the duties described in subsection (a) of this section and shall complete a training course conducted by the Office of Advocacy and Assistance, as described in subdivision (3) of subsection (b) of section 27-102l, or attend a training session conducted by the manager of said office, as described in subparagraph (A) of subdivision (2) of subsection (b) of said section. Each municipal veterans' representative designated on or after October 1, 2019, shall complete such training course not later than one year after the date of such designation. Upon completion of such training course, a municipal veterans' representative may thereafter receive electronically any new or updated training information from the Office of Advocacy and Assistance and shall not be required to complete any other such training course.

(3) Any volunteer designated as a municipal veterans' representative by a city or town pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection shall (A) be available to veterans in person, by telephone or by electronic mail for any minimum number of hours per week that the city or town designating the volunteer may establish, and (B) file a performance report each month with the city or town designating the volunteer that includes, but is not limited to, the names of veterans assisted, services or referrals provided and any other information as determined by the city or town.

(1949, S. 1647d; 1957, P.A. 13, S. 78; P.A. 13-34, S. 2; P.A. 14-56, S. 2; P.A. 16-68, S. 3; 16-192, S. 2; P.A. 17-36, S. 3; P.A. 19-148, S. 1.)

History: P.A. 13-34 designated existing provisions as Subsec. (a), added Subsec. (b) re veterans' service contact person, and made technical changes; P.A. 14-56 amended Subsec. (b)(1) to replace “a” with “its own” and add “separate from one or more other cities or towns”, effective May 23, 2014; P.A. 16-68 amended Subsec. (b) by designating existing provisions re designation of veterans' service contact person as new Subdiv. (1) and amending same by adding provisions re electronic notification to chief executive officer, submission of name and electronic mail address of designated city or town employee and definition of “chief executive officer”, designating existing provisions re contact person duties and training course as new Subdiv. (2) and amending same by replacing “may complete an annual” with “shall complete a” and adding provisions re completion of training course, and making conforming changes; P.A. 16-192 amended Subsec. (b) by adding “subdivision (1) of” in reference to Sec. 27-102l(b) and adding provision re attending training session conducted by unit head as described in Sec. 27-102l(b)(2)(A); P.A. 17-36 amended Subsec. (b) to replace references to veterans' advocacy and assistance unit with references to Office of Advocacy and Assistance, replace “unit head” with “manager”, and replace reference to Sec. 27-102l(b)(1) with reference to Sec. 27-102l(b)(3) in Subdiv. (2); P.A. 19-148 amended Subsec. (b) by replacing “veterans' service contact person” with “municipal veterans' representative”, designating existing provision re designation of city or town employee as such as Subpara. (A), adding Subpara. (B) re designation of volunteer resident and adding references to volunteer in Subdiv. (1), replacing references to veterans' service contact person with municipal veterans' representative, replacing “July 1, 2016” with “October 1, 2019” and making technical changes in Subdiv. (2), and adding Subdiv. (3) re duties of volunteer designated as municipal veterans' representative.