Sen. Leone, Combat Veterans Testify In Support Of Discounted Hunting, Trapping, Fishing License Fees
A proposed bill introduced by U.S. Air Force veteran and State Senator Carlo Leone (D-Stamford) that would discount hunting, trapping and fishing fees for veterans received its public hearing today before the legislature’s Veterans Affairs Committee—and the bill received support not only from Sen. Leone, but from two combat veterans as well.
Senate Bill 503 would provide an as-yet undetermined discount for the various license fees, which range from $19 to $65. The bill was introduced by Sen. Leone as a way to help veterans recover from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
“The idea is that taking advantage of what nature has to offer in a peaceful, controlled setting, through camaraderie and similar experiences, can be addressed in a way that has been proven to alleviate the effects of PTSD,” Sen. Leone testified. “The request to lessen the license fees will hopefully engage more of our veterans to seek treatment and solutions amongst friends and fellow veterans in a way that is non-threatening, thereby providing a natural, healing environment to occur.”
Daniel Laffin of North Haven, a combat-wounded veteran of the Afghanistan War, is an outdoorsman who runs a local chapter of Rivers of Recovery, an all-inclusive, medically proven four-day experience that introduces combat veterans to the sport of fly fishing.
“I feel this bill is so important because reducing the cost of entry into the outdoors can help so many veterans who don’t have the extra money to spend on licenses,” Laffin told committee members. “This goes way beyond saying thank you for your service. It can have a real impact on veterans’ lives by helping them reconnect with each other, their families, and the outdoors.”
Bridgeport resident Alejandro Rojas, a disabled Marine from the Iraq War, also testified in support of the bill while noting what a difference the Rivers to Recovery experience made for him.
“Last year Rivers of Recovery provided me with the experience of fly fishing on the Farmington River,” Rojas testified. “For the first time in years I was able to relax and enjoy myself. Fly fishing on the water showed me a whole new world of relaxation that for a veteran who suffers from PTSD is extremely hard to get to. During the weekend trip, I witnessed an evolution. The veterans participating in the program, including myself, changed over the course of the weekend. This program helps veterans strive toward living a life that is no longer restricted by psychological or physical disabilities.”
The deadline for action on bills in the Veterans Affairs Committee is this Thursday, February 16.