OP ED: Sen. Messmer on Championing Hoosier Military Members

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By State Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper)

 For almost 20 years, May has been recognized as Military Appreciation Month, when our country publicly shows support for troops — both past and present. I am thankful for the Hoosier men and women who sacrifice their own safety to protect our country, and I’m pleased to be able to stand behind them in the form of legislation.

 This session, the Indiana General Assembly continued to support those who have served in the military through laws regarding education, tax incentives, and medical treatment.

 When members of the military are called to active duty, they put their lives on hold to serve. Previously, if an enlisted person was called to active duty while enrolled in a college course, he or she could be responsible for the cost to re-enroll in the course when they return. House Enrolled Act 1047addresses this issue by allowing those individuals to re-enroll in an uncompleted course for no additional fee, or receive a refund or credit at state educational institutions. With this law in place, it will be easier for our servicemen and women to further their education.

 Veteran homelessness is an issue in Indiana and the rest of the United States. To help address this problem, the Indiana General Assembly passedHouse Enrolled Act 1402, which urges an interim study committee to study the topic of providing tax incentives to rental property owners who partner with nonprofit organizations to reduce veteran homelessness. If this study is assigned as a summer study topic, we will be one step closer to introducing legislation to make this idea a reality, benefiting our distinguished veterans and the rental property owners who partner with the nonprofit organizations.

 Finally, my colleagues and I also passed Senate Enrolled Act 96, which extends the Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Pilot Program until 2020. This program assists in providing diagnostic testing and hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) to veterans. HBOT is an important and well-established medical treatment commonly used to treat carbon monoxide poisoning, divers’ sickness, skin grafts, heat burns and crush injuries.

 I am proud to serve in a legislature that values the sacrifice our servicemen and women have made for their country. With this new legislation in place, I hope Indiana becomes an even greater environment for those who serve.

 As always, feel free to contact my office directly with your questions and concerns by email at [email protected] or by phone at 800-382-9467.