Indiana veterans and service members advocate for pro-military legislation

INDIANAPOLIS — Over 300 current and former military personnel came to the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday to advocate for policies that will improve their quality of life. At the top of that list is no longer paying income taxes on military earnings.

“We have a lot of reservists and guards in the state of Indiana,” said James Bauerle, an Army veteran and legislative chair of the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana. “We have a lot of people who join the military and go on active duty. People will then leave the state because Indiana taxes anything over $5,000 in military income.”

For years, veterans have taken action to improve their lives. House Bill 1034 would exempt military income from Indiana income tax.

Bauerle says the bill must include more than just active-duty military personnel.

“We want the same thing that the reserve military guard gets,” said Bauerle.

Other military groups would like legislators to allow veterans’ organizations to own video game machines. They say this policy would allow experienced organizations to stay open by generating more revenue. Keeping the doors open to American Legions and other veterans’ organizations has proven difficult in recent years.

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They also want lawmakers to give veterans free entry to Indiana State Parks, which they believe will help improve the mental health of current and former military members. They would also like to see a change in the tuition fee waiver.

Veterans like Bauerle say they can figure it out if reserve members are involved.

“Indiana has a state law that pays tuition for people who join the Indiana National Guard,” Bauerle said. “Those who join the reserves get nothing from the state. That’s wrong.”

Veterans like Rhonda Seward hope the state will continue to recognize women in the military by declaring June 12 as Women’s Veterans Recognition Day.

“Today, women are in infantry units, women are in different branches of military service, and they’re doing new jobs and new things,” Seward said. “I just want them to get that recognition for their contributions.”

According to the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana, all states bordering Indiana exempt military-related income from income tax.

House Bill 1034 has been referred to the Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee, which meets on Wednesday.

To read more about the VFW’s four key legislative priorities, click here. To learn more about the priorities of the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana, click here.