Barrar’s Committee Learns about Next Year’s Veterans and Emergency Service Professionals Climate
HARRISBURG – Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), majority chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, this week hosted an informational meeting to update the committee on issues impacting the veterans’ community and emergency preparedness and response activities. He also heard testimony during a House Appropriations Committee hearing regarding funding allocated for emergency services professionals in the governor’s budget proposal.
“The meeting and hearing both provided information about opportunities and challenges that veterans and emergency service professionals can expect to experience next year,” Barrar said. “My committee members and I want to proactively alleviate any struggles that veterans may experience, especially as a result of the governor’s proposed budget, and that’s why we met this week.”
The informational meeting held on Tuesday provided the committee with an opportunity to learn about how organizations in the Commonwealth are working with emergency response professionals and serving veterans.
The Eastern Pennsylvania American Red Cross (ARC) works with emergency response professionals to aid citizens of the Commonwealth who are suffering through a disaster. Most families can get back on their feet in three days, but the most vulnerable families find the process to be more challenging, and it can take 15-30 days for them to recover. Fortunately, since 1995, the Eastern PA ARC can use their Extended Care Program, which receives state funding, to keep families together during their recovery. The Red Cross House in Philadelphia is a great example. It keeps families out of the shelter and welfare system and is an excellent example of a public-private partnership.
A representative from Canine Partners for Life also testified during the meeting. Darlene Sullivan, who was accompanied by her service dog, Cal, explained that disabled veterans can use service dogs to enhance their lives. After two years of training, just a few of the tasks that all dogs who have graduated from the program can perform include alerting their partner to a drop in blood pressure that would precede unconsciousness so they can lay down, retrieving a wheelchair that has rolled away, and rolling a person over to prevent bed sores.
In addition to benefitting veterans who have physical disabilities, the dogs are able to assist those who are suffering emotionally. Veterans who are living with post-traumatic stress disorder have experienced overwhelming benefits from being partnered with a service dog.
“It’s exciting to hear about a new way to help those that wore the uniform,” Barrar said. “I know that this service will help a certain population of veterans who have yet to find a treatment that will help them transition out of their fatigues and into the life of a civilian, and for that, I am thankful.”
On Wednesday, Barrar and other members of the committee participated in the House Appropriations Committee’s hearing on Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget as the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and state fire commissioner testified. During the hearing, the members of the Appropriations Committee and other House members, including Barrar, questioned the details of the governor’s $33.8 billion spending plan as it relates to veterans affairs and emergency preparedness.
One of the issues that Barrar voiced during the hearing is his plan to update Pennsylvania’s 911 Emergency Telephone Act. The current draft of the bill includes an 8 percent fee going to PEMA; Barrar’s line of questioning led to PEMA Director Rick Flinn explaining how his agency will use this funding to enhance county 911 center interoperability on a regional and state level.
“While my bill will need to propose an increase—as there wasn’t an increase since the creation of the surcharge in 1995—I want to be sure that there will be no need for another increase for a very long time,” Barrar said. “I work for the taxpayers, and I always have their interests in mind.
Barrar is preparing his bill for introduction and committee action this April.
To view footage of part one of the House Veterans’ Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee’s informational meeting, click here
To view footage of part two of the House Veterans’ Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee’s informational meeting, click here

To view footage of the House Appropriations Committee’s hearing, click here.

Representative Stephen E. Barrar
160th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Alison Evans
717.260.6206 /
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