Sainato, Wheatley, Pisciottano, Webster unveil new bills to boost Pa. veterans

In lead-up to Veterans Day, highlight efforts on behalf of those who served

HARRISBURG, Nov. 8 – As Pennsylvania prepares to celebrate Veterans Day, state Reps. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence; Jake Wheatley and Nick Pisciottano, both D-Allegheny; and Joe Webster, D-Montgomery, joined fellow lawmakers at Soldier’s Grove to unveil a package of bills aimed at improving the lives of those who have served.

Sainato, Democratic chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said he is proud to be part of a bipartisan effort to shape policy and legislation for the commonwealth’s large and active veteran population.

“Our veterans deserve the most vigilant, responsive lawmaking we can provide,” Sainato said. “There is always more we can do to improve the laws in ways that address their concerns. It’s what motivated us to introduce legislation to improve the professional licensing process, so boards better understand how military skills and experience translate to civilian license requirements and veterans have an easier time getting those licenses.”

Wheatley, who is Democratic chairman of the House Professional Licensure Committee and a Marine veteran, said, “I want to thank my fellow members for working with me to get this bill across the finish line in the House. This bill will help veterans, service members and their families as they transition to civilian life, smoothing the path for them to join the work force or start their own businesses. With the media so often focusing on the differences between Democrats and Republicans, it is an excellent example of how we are working together. I also want to thank the executive directors of the Professional Licensure Committee, Marlene Wilson, Esq., for her drafting and coordination, and Nicole Sidle, for her cooperation.”

Pisciottano said, “Every day, our brave troops put their lives on the line for all of us, and some of them end their service to our nation with an injury or disease that’s caused a loss of vision, paralysis or amputations. While we can never repay the sacrifices they made, an increase in their monthly pension payments under the Blind Veterans and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension programs, which have not changed in 20 years, would be a good way to show our appreciation.”

Webster, who introduced legislation to further protect military discharge papers, said, “Our veterans have served this country honorably, and whether their service was recent or decades ago, it is our responsibility to protect them after they have made sacrifices to protect us. I propose this legislation in support of my fellow veterans to protect their privacy and to offer another way we can show our gratitude.”

The bills are part of a package of recently introduced measures to benefit veterans. They include:

  • H.B. 1868, to improve professional licensing for veterans, service members and military spouses.
  • H.B.1220, to increase the monthly amounts for the Blind Veterans’ and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans’ pension programs.
  • H.B. 1055, to further protect military discharge papers stored in a county courthouse records office.
  • H.B. 1612, to enhance the group life insurance program for the PA National Guard.
  • S.B. 550, providing for flags on veterans’ graves in Allegheny County.
  • S.B. 248, creating Persian Gulf War Day and Global War on Terrorism Day.

Sainato introduced H.B. 1868 together with prime sponsor Zach Mako, R-Northampton/Lehigh. Other prime sponsors include state Reps. Karen Boback, R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming, and Dave Hickernell, R-Lancaster/Dauphin.

Sainato and Boback have also introduced H.R. 153, a resolution recognizing Nov. 11, 2021, as Veterans Day in Pennsylvania.