VFW recognizes Jefferson City lawmaker


For his support for veteran issues in the Missouri Legislature, Foreign War Veterans recognized Rep. Dave Griffith as the organization’s Legislator of the Year.

Griffith, a Republican from Jefferson City, is chairman of the Missouri House of Representatives Veterans Committee.

During the last session, Griffith sponsored House Bill 390, which established the Purple Star school districts. Purple Star Districts identify and support military-related students through services, their websites, and bridging programs.

He also sponsored House Bill 391, which provided that members of the Missouri National Guard were to be considered state employees when operating state-owned vehicles on official state business.

The price came as a surprise, Griffith said. The lawmaker, who attended its third session this year, traveled to the local VFW to give the organization an update on what the legislature did during the session.

“I was very honored to be able to receive (the recognition),” Griffith said.

In the next session, he intends to reintroduce a bill from the last session. Joint House Resolution 32 would exempt any veteran who is 100 percent disabled as a result of their service from paying Missouri property taxes on their homes.

Just over 14,000 Missouri veterans would qualify for the exemption, Griffith said.

He also wants to focus on slowing veteran suicides.

Just a few years ago, the number of veterans committing suicide every day was 22. Despite efforts to slow these incidents down, the number has risen to 25 a day, he said.

House of Congress Bill 67 is starting to tackle veteran suicide, he said. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should contract with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to report deaths of covered veterans (those who received hospital or VA medical care during previous five years) who have died by suicide within the past five years, whether or not the death information was reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have to look for ways to mitigate (suicides),” Griffith said.

Lawmakers have set up task forces and pay companies to consult with them on prevention, he said.

“We never hear of tangible things that we can do,” he said.

Missouri Department of Mental Health Veterans Services offers the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1), a confidential resource available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Veterans can also strike up a confidential conversation with an advisor at www.veterancrisisline.net.

Veterans or their families in crisis can find Access Crisis Intervention, connecting people with behavioral health crisis services. In Cole, Camden, Miller, and Osage counties, people can call the Compass Health Crisis Line at 888-237-4567.

Those in Moniteau, Morgan and Boone counties should call the Burrell Central Missouri crisis line at 800-395-2132.

In Callaway County, call the Arthur Center Crisis Line, 800-833-2064.

Assistance may include telephone contact, referrals to resources in the community, next day behavioral health appointments, or mobile responses (with responders traveling either to the scene of the crisis or to another location. secure community), according to the Missouri Department of Mental Health website.

Griffith said he was happy the state’s medical marijuana program transferred more than $ 6.8 million to the Missouri Veterans Commission in September.

The commission, which also receives money from casinos in Missouri, has seen its revenue drop steadily in recent years as casinos have done less and less business.

But, Griffith predicts Missourians will legalize recreational marijuana and fears the medical marijuana revenue pumped into the commission could dry up quickly.

If this happens, the commission may depend on the state budget.

Finally, Jefferson City pledged Monday to hand over East Miller Park to the US Veterans Administration (VA) to use the property as an extension of Jefferson City National Cemetery.

Griffith said he would be making a trip to Washington, DC soon to present documents to the VA. Documentation will show that the city is ready to transfer ownership to the national agency.

These documents will go a long way in convincing federal authorities that the expansion of the cemetery is necessary and possible, he said.

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