Barrar, Committees Reminded of Budget’s Impact on Veterans
HARRISBURG – Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) and other members of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committees learned about key issues facing veterans in the Commonwealth.

A recurring theme of the conversation was the state’s challenging budget constraints and how they impact veterans.

First, Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) explained that despite last year’s budget cuts, all veterans homes in Pennsylvania are fully licensed and satisfaction levels are higher than ever. However, he cautioned that financial challenges cannot be overcome every year as this year’s equipment replacements were delayed.

Space in veterans homes continues to be a focus, with the DMVA weighing the benefits of building another veterans home versus partnering with county homes to share unused space. He said that he expects the daily operating cost per veteran to be reduced by a third if the DMVA can use a floor or wings at county homes.

“Of course using available resources more effectively so more veterans can be served is a tremendous benefit,” Barrar said. “It’s also important to recognize that working with county homes would allow us to serve veterans all across the Commonwealth instead of only in the surrounding areas of the one new building.”

Veterans are not required to choose the facility closest to them geographically, but that is often their preference. They understand the natural consequences of moving hours away from their family, and they don’t want to make it more difficult for their families to visit.

Funding also affects how many can be counseled on their benefits, as Pennsylvania American Legion Department Adj. Kit Watson testified. He stated that trained and accredited veteran service officers reach those who are unaware of the benefits to which they’re entitled. In the past year, the nine officers were lost to higher-paying positions, and he claimed that it degrades the group’s ability to provide high standards of service to veterans.

Other concerns that were shared include the doubt that veterans preference is being as rigorously applied to non-civil service hirings as it is to civil service hirings and the negative impact on business Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFWs) are experiencing that permit smoking. Dwight Fuhrman, department commander of the PA VFW shared his belief that more and more of the population is avoiding the state’s VFWs because the smoke is off-putting, resulting in the loss of potential income. Currently, members at each VFWs can decide whether to allow smoking. Fuhrman asked that all VFWs prohibit smoking.

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To view footage of the joint House and Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committee hearing, click here.

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

Media Contact: Alison Evans
717.260.6206 /

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