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Veterans saluted across region

State OKs new benefits; Cold War honors sought

November 11, 2009
Before they went home for Veterans' Day, the General Court finalized a compromise veterans' bill that expands the benefits first put forth in the "Welcome Home" Bill in 2005.

Among other things, the law gives small businesses majority-owned by disabled veterans the ability to apply for state contracts under the same preferences previously given to those owned by women and minorities. It also creates a state Medal of Liberty for families of those killed in service and expands the bonus for returning soldiers to $1,000 for the first tour and $500 for each subsequent tour.

According to State Rep. Todd Smola, R-Palmer, the bill is a combination of need and "political glamour."

"While I think this bill is a good thing, why did we wait until Veterans Day to do it?" he asked, noting the issues have been important for some time but it was timed "so there can be a grandiose release."

The same thing essentially happened in 2005; that bill was also signed by the governor — then Mitt Romney, now Deval Patrick — on Veterans' Day.

Smola said most of the veterans he talks to have been focused elsewhere.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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