Bill developed by MPA students signed into law
A bill that student veterans of the University of Guam Master of Public Administration program helped develop to better serve the needs of veterans in Guam became public law on March 11. The Securing and Ensuring the Rights Veterans Earned (SERVE) Act, which was introduced by Sen. Amanda Shelton in the 36th Guam Legislature on Nov. 30 as Bill No. 227-36 (COR), was signed into law by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero as Public Law 36-84.
The cohort sought to develop this legislation to honor veterans for their service and provide new solutions to the challenges they face upon returning home.
“Our cohort is made up of veterans, and many of us come from legacies of military service, bringing this bill close to home,” said Brandon Pablo, public affairs officer for the Fanuchånan '21 MPA cohort. “Our vision for the SERVE Act is to provide our veterans with the expanded support […] that they have rightfully earned.”
The SERVE Act establishes a Veterans Bill of Rights in Guam to increase veterans’ access to housing assistance, employment support, higher education opportunities, and health care through various local and federal programs.
It also includes an appropriation of $500,000 for the Guam Veterans Affairs Office for fiscal year 2022 to fund the operations and implementation of programs and services.
"The SERVE Act provides veterans with a single source of assistance in identifying the benefits they are entitled to receive here on Guam," the governor said. "For too long, our veterans have had difficulty navigating the complex network of agencies responsible for assisting veterans in obtaining the benefits they earned through their selfless service to Guam and our nation. The passage of Bill No. 227-26 [...] is the first step in fulfilling our sacred obligation to care for our veterans and help them with their transition back into civilian life."
Under the Veterans Bill of Rights, the GVAO is directed to, among other tasks:
In Sen. Amanda Shelton's press release announcing the bill’s introduction, she said she was proud to partner with the Fanuchånan '21 MPA cohort in this effort.
“Veterans deserve more than our gratitude for their service and sacrifice to our nation, and establishing a Veterans Bill of Rights through the SERVE Act is one big step forward in this process,” she said.