Legislation funding veterans programs signed into law

SOMERSET – Gov. Chris Christie signed two bills into law today that will continue providing support services to returning National Guard members and other veterans.

Christie said it’s “merely a token” to the individuals who help bring freedom and liberty around the world.

He signed A2286, a bill that provides a stable funding source to the New Jersey National Guard State Family Readiness Council Fund. The legislation will enable residents to make voluntary contributions to the fund by checking a box on their yearly income tax forms designating the funds for such a purpose. The funds will go to the state Division of Taxation and then be distributed by the New Jersey National Guard Family Readiness Council. The fund will help counseling, financial planning and other support services.

“They put their personal lives on hold to defend our country, leaving not only their loved ones but their jobs behind,” Christie said.

New Jersey Manufacturers plans to donate $25,000 toward the fund. The governor and his wife, Mary Pat Christie, have given $141,000 in donations generated from his inauguration.

The second law, S1731, establishes a funding source for the Veterans hotline, made possible by a joint effort between the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

The fund will support the 24-hour, toll-free, peer support hotline that provides access to mental health professionals who do work in post-traumatic stress disorder, among other conditions.

“Serving in a combat zone …puts overwhelming stress on the mind and body that the average New Jerseyan will never know,” the governor said.

“This program is a critical component in the healing process. The healing is not just physical. It’s also often mental.”