New state law opens up benefits to an estimated 800 veterans
by Julia Bergman Day staff writer
October 4, 2018
Hartford — Thomas Burke has been out of the Marine Corps for 10 years but said it wasn't until this week that he felt like a veteran.
Burke, a former infantryman who deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq, received an other-than-honorable discharge for smoking marijuana months after returning from a deployment in Afghanistan, during which he had to clean up the remains of a group of Afghan children who'd been blown up by a rocket-propelled grenade that they were bringing to his military base.
"I can't explain the feelings I have today, after 10 years of service from returning home, I finally feel like a veteran because Connecticut stood up and told me that I'm a veteran," Burke said Thursday.
A new state law that went into effect Monday allows veterans discharged under "other-than-honorable" circumstances, who have post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury or sexual trauma resulting from their military service, to access state veteran benefits.
State officials and veterans touted the new law at a news conference Thursday morning in Hartford. Several of them said that the law, the first of its kind, makes Connecticut a leader in the nation.
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