Colorado is home to almost half a million American heroes who faithfully served our country in uniform. It is our responsibility to ensure that we stand by these brave men and women. Our country made a promise to them in return for these sacrifices and as governor I will fight to make sure these sacrifices and commitments are not forgotten and that our veterans receive the honor and services they have earned.
Most services for our veterans are provided by the federal government so I will work hand in hand with our Congressional delegation to hold Washington accountable to deliver what our veterans need and are entitled to. But there are also additional steps the state can and should take to support our veterans. These include:
- Expand the state income tax deduction on veterans’ pensions: I support allowing all military retirees regardless of age to benefit from the state income tax deduction.
- Increase the number of Veterans Trauma Courts throughout the state: We need to provide support to veterans who encounter legal trouble that is related to PTSD or other issues resulting from their military service. Often these individuals are suffering mental and emotional trauma after enduring experiences on the battlefield that most of us could never imagine. Veterans courts help by enlisting troubled veterans into a program that includes counseling and mental health treatment. The program holds veterans accountable for their actions, but understands the traumas they have suffered. There are currently six veterans courts operating in different jurisdictions across Colorado. As governor, I will work with judicial districts throughout the state to find ways to expand this program so that we can get all Colorado veterans the support they need.
- Install a dedicated officer in the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to oversee programs related to Women and LGBTQ vetarans: There are 46,000 female veterans living in Colorado and many LGBTQ veterans. These warriors served honorably alongside their male and heterosexual colleagues yet they face additional challenges. Women and LGBTQ veterans face unique challenges upon returning home and throughout their lives. There are higher rates of sexual trauma for women in the military, and returning home to a society unaccustomed to women veterans can be challenging. While the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a major step forward for our LGBTQ service members, traditional veteran services may not address the needs or provide welcoming spaces for LGBTQ veterans. A dedicated officer in Colorado’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs can address these needs and ensure that our women and LGBTQ warriors receive equal support and respect.