Today, the Modern Military Association of America, the nation’s largest non-profit organization for the LGBTQ military and veteran community, released the following statement praising Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo for signing into law legislation restoring state and local benefits to veterans discharged from the military under discriminatory policies like the former “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Signed into law on Friday, the legislation establishes a process for veterans to upgrade their discharge status with the state to reflect their honorable service.

“This new law sends a powerful message of appreciation and support for veterans throughout Rhode Island that were discharged from the military solely because of their sexual orientation,” said MMAA Executive Director and Navy veteran Andy Blevins. “Every veteran deserves access to the benefits they earned honorably serving this great nation, including LGBTQ veterans. MMAA was proud to work with Rhode Island State Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson in drafting this important legislation, and we applaud Governor Raimondo for signing it into law.”

While the new state law does not change access to federal benefits, veterans discharged under DADT and previous discriminatory policies can apply with the federal government to have their records upgraded. MMAA assists veterans with that process as part of their mission for the LGBTQ military and veteran community. MMAA is also currently working with Members of Congress to streamline that process by passing the “Restore Honor to Service Members Act,” legislation that would correct the military records of service members discharged solely due to their sexual orientation to reflect their honorable service and reinstate the federal benefits they earned.