Programs and Services
Since 1861, from its first commitments to Civil War veterans, their spouses and dependents, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has demonstrated solid concern for those men and women who have displayed sacrifice, valor, and duty when their state and nation called upon them. It supports a network of services and benefits to ensure that none of the 500,000 veterans in the state today who served honorably, or their dependents, will go hungry, homeless or be medically deprived.
Following World War II, the Legislature completely rewrote Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 115 establishing a uniform program of financial and medical assistance for indigent veterans and their dependents. The Legislature charged the Secretary of Veterans' Services with oversight of the program which is administered locally by Veterans Service Officers.
What we do
Veterans Service Officers assist and accept applications from unemployed, indigent, disabled, ill, injured veterans, surviving spouses, or dependents who are in need. Service officers interview applicants, determine their eligibility, and file requests with the Secretary for assistance. Veterans or their surviving spouses whose monthly income is $1815 or less if single, $2452 if married, and have cash assets of $1600 or less if single, $3200 if married, may be eligible for cash assistance from the city.
If a veteran, surviving spouse or dependent qualifies, the service officer will provide him (or her) with necessary financial assistance for food, shelter, clothing, housing supplies, and medical care in accordance with a formula which takes into account the number of dependents, income, assets and expenses from all sources. These expenditures are paid to the veteran or surviving spouse by the city or town in which they reside. The department also provides assistance in filing for city tax exemptions and abatements earmarked for disabled veterans and/or their surviving spouses. In addition, the program helps defray burial expenses for indigent veterans.
It is a modest program, separate from public welfare, but it provides veterans the necessary support, with dignity, to which they are entitled. Spouses and dependents of deceased veterans are provided with the same benefits, as if the veteran was still living.
In addition to the benefits paid through the program described above, the Commonwealth pays an annual annuity of $2,000 to certain veterans who have suffered permanent disabilities due to enemy action, illness or accident that occurred while on active duty, and to the parents and un-remarried spouse of a deceased veteran, whose death occurred as a result of injury sustained or disease contracted during active service.
Iraq and Afghanistan VeterAns
Veterans of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and those who have served since 9/11/2001 are now eligible to receive a cash bonus from the Commonwealth for their service. Veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq will receive a $1,000 cash bonus and all other veterans who have served since 9/11/2001 will receive $500.
Veterans who serve subsequent tours of duty in Afghanistan or Iraq will receive a $500 cash bonus for each tour. Veterans who serve subsequent tours of duty, minimum 180 days, outside of the United States, but not in Afghanistan or Iraq, will receive $250 for each tour.
The National Guard
Effective July 1, 2006, members of the Massachusetts National Guard are now eligible for both tuition and fee waivers at any state school. This includes community colleges, state colleges and universities in addition to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA)
It is to be noted that the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services has no formal affiliation with the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA). Local service officers do however; provide assistance to all veterans and their families in applying for federal VA benefits, such as disability compensation, pensions, home loans, education and medical services. There are numerous other benefits and entitlements to which veterans or their families may be entitled to, please contact Cambridge Veterans' Services for further information.