NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Monday signed S2815, which directs the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs (DMAVA) to assist former Armed Forces service members who were denied an honorable discharge due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
DMAVA will assist veterans with completing and submitting the appropriate forms to petition the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to change their discharge designation to instead reflect an honorable discharge. DMAVA will also be tasked with creating, publishing, and distributing material to all public agencies regarding the availability of the assistance, as well as creating a uniform and consistent process for providing such assistance.
“Our LGBTQ+ servicemembers made countless sacrifices to serve this nation, yet were discharged and denied the services and benefits they deserved simply because of who they were and whom they loved,” Murphy said. “With today’s bill signing, we are streamling the process to provide direct assistance to these brave men and women in their efforts to revise their discharge status and attain the benefits they earned and deserve for their service.”
Nearly 100,000 LGBTQ+ servicemembers were denied honorable discharge prior to the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. As a result, these servicemembers are ineligible for both state and federal veterans’ benefits. Under this legislation, former servicemembers who have the designation of their discharge changed will be eligible for the same rights, privileges, and benefits that are offered to servicemembers who were honorably discharged.