Letter: A slap in the face of disabled veterans
Shame on the governor and our state legislature. What he did to the spouses of our veterans behind their backs is disgraceful and government at its worst. I am so far a healthy veteran of the Vietnam era, not a "served in Vietnam veteran," so I do not have a dog in this hunt, but I do hate backhandedness when I see it.
A friend of mine, whose husband died of Agent Orange exposure years ago, asked me if I thought she qualified for real estate tax relief under Section X, Subsection 6a of the Virginia Constitution, passed by referendum on Nov. 2, 2010. I replied "if it works how they posed the ballot question, I would think so." I apologize that, in Virginia, what we do at the ballot box apparently does not count.
Section 6a, in part, states that "the General Assembly … shall exempt from taxation the real property, including the joint real property of husband and wife, of any veteran who has been determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its successor agency pursuant to federal law, to have one hundred percent service-connected, permanent and total disability … The General Assembly shall also provide this exemption from taxation for real property owned by the surviving spouse of a veteran who was eligible for the exemption provided in this section, so long as the surviving spouse does not remarry and continues to occupy the real property as his or her principal place of residence."
What the governor did was call a special session to remove those who died prior to Jan. 1, 2011 from eligibility. They enacted state code (Chapter 32 of title 58.1, article 2.3) to this effect. The article has many more problems than this, enough that the attorney general was involved for guidance.
As a spouse of a disabled vet, I guess one is penalized for their early withdrawal. Maybe they don’t understand how hard it is to care for a disabled spouse and the more disabled, the more likely they were to die early.
I understand counties needing money and this may pull a dollar or two from the total, but why do we always go after the most deserving?
Call the board, make some noise, call your representatives. If the paper would let me use them to organize, I would. This is a battle worth fighting. Bottom line: since 1969, when I went in the Navy, Vietnam veterans and their spouses have been treated unfairly and all they want is a simple "thank you." I believe a little break was due, and our governor and the legislature instead turned their backs.