Ahwatukee lawmaker helped veterans, made history this session | News

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Ahwatukee legislator Stacy Travers this past legislative session achieved something no other freshmen Democrat in the state House of Representatives did, but it’s Arizona veterans and their families that will benefit from her achievement.

Travers is one of two House Democrats – including Rep. Patty Contreras – elected last year to represent Legislative District 12, which covers Ahwatukee and parts of Tempe and Chandler.

Amid a fractious legislative session, Travers was the only freshman Democrat to get a bill passed by both Republican-dominated chambers and signed by Gov. Katie Hobbs.

HB2670 allows National Guardsmen and Reservists to be buried in state-run veterans cemeteries and recognizes Space Force veterans as eligible recipients of state benefits provided veterans.

“It was a wild ride getting it though,” said Travers, a scientist and U.S. Army veteran who co-chairs the bipartisan legislative veterans caucus.

But Travers kept her campaign promise to work across the aisle to get and saw the bill become the last piece of legislation passed in the prolonged 2023 Session.

That “wild ride” had nothing to do with the kind of partisan discord that dominated much of the session.

“Even though it always had unanimous votes, there was a delay when we were trying to acquire funding through the budget,” Travers explained.

She said after it passed the House, Senate President Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, put a hold on it “and it took a bipartisan effort to get it moving again.”

Travers credited three Republican senators – David Gowan of Sierra Vista, T.J. Shope of Coolidge  and Sonny Borelli of Lake Havasu – with getting the bill moving again through the legislative meat grinder.

“It was a real bipartisan group effort to get the bill through,” she said, giving House Speaker Ben Toma, R-Peoria, with holding a second, final hearing on the measure once the Senate had made a few changes.

Travers said she was surprised that National Gard and Reserve veterans were not entitled to burial in state-run. veterans cemeteries, although they are eligible for burial in the National veterans Cemetery in Cave Creek.

She said National Guardsmen and Reservists who had served in the Middle East told her of the problem.

“They have the same duties and responsibilities as active duty members and they should receive the same benefits that active duty members do,” Travers said.

The U.S. Space Force was established on Dec. 20, 2019, and is the first new branch of the armed services since 1947. 

Its creation “resulted from widespread recognition that space is a national security imperative,” according to the Space Force’s website. 

“When combined with the growing threat posed by strategic competitors in space, it became clear that there was a need for a military service focused solely on pursuing superiority in the space domain,” it explains, adding that the Defense Department has been involved in strategizing activity in space since the U.S. launched Jupiter C in 1953.

“The Space Force consolidates satellite acquisition, budget and workforce from across more than 60 different organizations into a unified, efficient, effective service for space operations,” it says on its website.

The smallest branch of the armed services, the Space Force operates 77 satellites. Members of the Space Force are called “Guardians” – a term that applies to its 8,600 military personnel and another 6,000 civilians. 

Given its relative age comparted to other branches of the Armed Forces, it’s unclear if there are any Space Force veterans yet.

But as a scientist, Travers said she felt that just as National Guard and Reserve veterans are entitled to the same state-provided benefits as those who served in other branches of the Armed Forces, so too should Space Force veterans be treated by Arizona.

Travers noted that while federal benefits are available to any veteran regardless of what branch they served in, they are not necessarily entitled to state benefits unless specifically designated by a state legislature.

“It’s still important to make those benefits available to Space Force veterans because as the Space Force expands” and gets older, there will be veterans eventually even if there aren’t any yet, she said. 

Those benefits, administered by the Arizona Department of Veterans, can include tuition help and admission to state nursing homes.  

AFN NEWS STAFF www.ahwatukee.com

2023-11-20 07:00:00 , ""news"site:ahwatukee.com/" – Vivrr Local

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