Ravalli County supports a community veterans service center in Hamilton with a voter-approved mill levy. State House Representative David Bedey has introduced House Bill 172 that would encourage other counties in Montana to establish their own local service centers to augment the State and Federal veterans agencies. Bedey said the nine Montana regional centers still require veterans to drive long distances. The bill would provide small grants from state funds to help establish the local offices. Bedey praised the Hamilton-based office for face-to-face support, helping veterans work through the Veterans Administration programs.

The bill is in the Administrative Committee, awaiting action that would bring it out of committee. Bedey said the amount of money used for the county grant program would not threaten the current Montana veterans services. However, he said others disagree with his assessment and have opposed the bill. In response, Bedey said, "The bottom line - better services, more accessibility for veterans and more resources brought to the table for helping the people that have earned the benefits that they're entitled to."

More From KMPT-AM