Earlier this month, Governor Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bill 1739, a bill I introduced to help improve the quality of life for residents of California’s veterans’ homes.
AB 1739 simply authorizes the administrator of a California veterans home to enter into an agreement with a home’s allied council, made up of veteran residents of the home, and authorized to represent the residents in various ways to run activities that enrich the lives of the residents.
Under current law, administrators hold discretion over morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) facilities and activities at the veterans’ homes. MWR money may be used to provide for the general welfare of the veterans in the home, including a Veterans Home Exchange, hobby shop, movie theater, library, band, sports activities and celebrations. MWR money may not be used for things such as medical or related treatments, nor can they spent on maintenance of a home’s physical plant.
Unfortunately, due to budget constraints and other factors, many of the above mentioned quality-of-life services or activities have been shut down in recent years.
The vets who reside at the state’s veterans homes come from various backgrounds, and many of them have expertise in a wide range of fields. They also have the desire to see that MWR facilities and activities are available to home residents. What they lacked, until recently, was the ability to assume responsibility for operating the facilities and activities which are presently shut down. AB 1739 would allow them to assume that responsibility at the discretion of a home administrator.
Given their collective interest in taking on that role, combined with ongoing fiscal constraints faced by the veterans’ homes and the California Department of Veterans Affairs, AB 1739 offers a win-win solution that promises a brighter future for many of our veterans.
These vets fought courageously and defended our country with pride and valor. AB 1739 provides them with a vehicle for expanding their contributions to the welfare and well-being of other residents of the veterans’ homes.
Assemblyman Michael Allen is in a two-person runoff with San Rafael City Council member Marc Levin for the 10th Assembly District, which includes part of Sonoma County. The election is Nov. 6.
Levine also blogs for Patch.