Danielson: Serving Colorado Veterans

By Rep. Jessie Danielson

In Jefferson County, veterans play a critical role in the lifeblood of our community. After the parades and the holidays and the remembrances, it’s important that we work as a community to help Colorado’s veterans live secure and successful lives.

In the 2015 legislative session, we passed several laws to help veterans and military families. One bill, which I cosponsored, secures $55 million in federal financial aid for veterans attending Colorado’s public colleges and universities through the GI Bill, while expanding in-state tuition for veterans and their dependents. Access to in-state tuition for Colorado veterans means their GI Bill dollars go farther, and the promise of higher education is available to those who have served our country.

Another measure we passed expands the Military Family Relief Fund to families of National Guard members who volunteer to be mobilized, which we didn’t do before. When a Guard member steps up, they deserve to know that their family at home has access to resources that help them get through their loved one’s deployment.

As we watch the ongoing debacle at the new VA hospital in Aurora, it’s important to look at ways we can help senior vets here locally. On Military Appreciation Day in January, Jeffco’s Veterans Service Officer Peter Mortaro took time to visit with us in the House, where I learned more about county-based services for veterans and their dependents. In April, we then passed a bill to improve how the state funds these county-based veterans offices, which are often the first point of contact for a veteran looking to access the health care and benefits they have earned.

My personal hero, my grandfather, and a Wheat Ridge constituent, Gerald C. Rasey, passed away in July, shortly after his 91st birthday. A World War II veteran, Grandpa Rasey earned the Bronze Star during the Battle of the Bulge. He and my grandmother settled in Wheat Ridge nearly 60 years ago, raised their family, and built their unique Colorado Dream.

I want every veteran, regardless of age, to feel that Colorado is a special, welcoming place where they can build their own dream. We all have a responsibility to honor those who have given so much to protect our freedoms and our cherished way of life. I will continue to work in the state legislature to better serve veterans all across Colorado. Please contact my office at 303-866-5522 if there is any way I can help you.

State Representative Jessie Danielson serves North-Central Jefferson County at the State Capitol. To reach Rep. Danielson or for information about upcoming Town Hall events, please call her at 303-866-5522 or visit www.jessiedanielson.com.

op-edRachel Caine