The organizational session for the 111th General Assembly is complete. Governor Bill Lee has taken the oath of office and now it’s time to get to work on the issues facing Tennessee. It was my pleasure to witness Governor Lee being inaugurated and I look forward to the exceptional work he will do for Tennessee in the years to come.
Although most of our committees will begin work for the 2019 session during the week of January 28th, the General Assembly’s Veterans’ Caucus has already held their first meeting to discuss matters of importance related to active and retired military service members. Tennessee has received high marks from veterans’ groups for legislation that we have passed to support our service members and their families over the last several years. This includes enactment of legislation ensuring full property tax relief for 100 percent service-related disabilities; allowing service members’ military training to count towards a degree; giving hiring preference to veterans; and making it easier for those who are deployed overseas to vote. These are in addition to our efforts to provide enhanced educational benefits to active and retired veterans.
In their first meeting, the Caucus invited veterans’ groups to talk about proposals they would like to see passed this year. Two proposals presented to the Caucus deal with veterans who are distressed and veterans in need of mental health services. Approximately 20 veterans across the country take their own lives each day. Veterans in Tennessee are more than twice as likely to commit suicide compared to a non-veteran, with the state’s death rate climbing above national and regional levels.
One suicide prevention proposal suggested by veterans called for training in mental health crisis management to employees of departments who assist veterans with mental health issues. The recommendation was to utilize resources provided by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network which can provide training at no cost to the state. The goal is to get the person in need of assistance to a professional who can help them as quickly and effectively as possible. Likewise, a proposal to expedite help to veterans in need of services is the “Green Alert” bill. This would establish a system that would provide rapid dissemination of information to more quickly identify and locate a missing veteran at risk. This legislation would allow the TBI to use existing statewide infrastructure for AMBER Alerts to facilitate the Green Alert system.
It was mentioned in the meeting that many years ago, veterans who experienced mental trauma in the line of duty often died of their injuries on the field of battle. With advanced medicine, many more veterans suffer from mental health conditions today related to their service than in recent history. It is our duty to help care for these veterans who have sacrificed so much in order to defend our country.
Some of the other proposals suggested by veterans include:
· Ensuring that Tennessee is enlisted in all occupational licensing compacts so that military professionals or their spouses can work from one state to the next without having to be relicensed when they are moved in the line of duty;
· Making it easier for military families who are moving into Tennessee by allowing parents to register their children in a school district prior to arriving;
· Fixing our law to allow our military families to keep in-state tuition when a high school student is accepted at a college or university in Tennessee, but their parent serving is moved before the school year starts;
· Protecting state employment for Guard members who mobilize in a state other than Tennessee; and
· Giving the appropriate recognition to women veterans who have defended our country.
I look forward to helping these proposals advance to honor the service of those who have given so much to protect our freedoms. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 615 741-3100. I look forward to hearing from you!
Contact Senator Hensley at
425 5th Avenue North, Suite 746
Nashville TN 37243
Toll Free 1-800-449-8366
855 Summertown Highway
Hohenwald TN 38462
Cell Phone 931-212-8823