Tommy Wright: Let’s honor our veterans

Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in the 2023 session that will provide relief for Virginia Veterans. While only a “stopgap” budget has been approved with more significant negotiations expected soon, I would like to take a moment to share with you some of our accomplishments from this year.

Virginia is home to more veterans than any other state in the nation. Those who put on the uniform often serve here and ultimately decide to retire here. 

My House Republican colleagues and I made it our mission to pass legislation that builds on last year’s military tax reduction by allowing all veterans – regardless of age – to enjoy lower taxes. 

While our Republican majority in the House was able to advance the legislation, the measure was defeated in the Democrat Senate.

We recognize the critical need to address the mental health crisis faced by our veterans. 

Fortunately, we were able to pass legislation that ensures military service members transitioning from military to civilian life are supported by the program for mental health and rehabilitative services administered by the Department of Veterans Services.

We also increased the income tax subtraction for members of the National Guard of the Commonwealth beginning this year. The summary for that bill, along with a few others that may be of interest to you.

HB 1388 directs the Department of Conservation and Recreation to establish a Virginia National Guard Passport that authorizes a member of the Virginia National Guard to enter state parks without paying a parking or admission fee. 

HB 1624 requires the Department of Veterans Services, mental health, and rehabilitative services to add military service members transitioning from military to civilian life to the list of persons supported by the program for mental health and rehabilitative services administered by the Department of Veterans Services. 

HB 2362 provides relief with burial fees for military spouses. This bill provides that the Commonwealth shall pay any burial fee for a member of the National Guard and Reserve or a deceased spouse of a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces or of the National Guard and Reserve, regardless of whether such spouse death precedes or succeeds the death of the member or veteran.

HB 2373 relates to income tax subtraction, meaning the National Guard shall increase from $3,000 to $5,000 the income tax subtraction for wages or salaries of a member of the National Guard of the Commonwealth for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2023. The bill also expands the military ranks that qualify for the subtraction from O3 and below to O6 and below.

On Monday, we remembered those who gave the last full measure of devotion so that we can be free. It is important to teach our younger generations the importance of Memorial Day and pray for the families who never experienced their loved ones coming home. 

Del. Tommy Wright can be reached via email at DelTWright@House.Virginia.gov or (804) 698-1061.