Trousdale County was well represented last week at the annual Veterans Legislative Day in Nashville.
Amber Russell, who serves as the county’s Veterans Service Office, joined American Legion Post Commander Dan Belcher in making the trip to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and discuss proposals of concern to veterans.
“They have a day where they talk about legislation, and invite veterans into the discussion to get their insights,” Russell said.
The two top items on the veterans’ lobbying list are restoring property tax relief for disabled veterans and hiring preferences for veterans, their spouses and widows.
In 2015, an exemption of $100,000 in home market value was put in place by the legislature for property taxes. The veterans group wants that limit raised to $175,000, where it had been previously.
“There were tax exemptions taken away from veterans having to do with land taxes,” Russell said, “and now we’re fighting to bring them back.”
The other proposal would allow private businesses to establish hiring preferences for veterans or their spouses. According to organizers of the Veterans Legislative Day, over 30 states currently allow some form of hiring preferences for veterans.
Attendees also saw the Vietnam Traveling Wall, a 3/5-scale replica of the actual wall in Washington, D.C. The guest speaker was U.S. Air Force Capt. (retired) William Robinson, who spent nearly 7½ years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
“He is a super nice guy,” Russell said.
Among the politicians in attendance were both of Trousdale County’s representatives in the General Assembly, State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver and State Sen. Ferrell Haile, as well as Gov. Bill Haslam.
Russell, who took the post as Trousdale’s VSO just a few months ago, said she was impressed with the turnout and learned a lot from attending.
“You see what’s coming, and people’s views, and what it will be in the future,” she said. “It was a learning process. The important thing was building relationships to use for veterans who need help.”
Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.