On April 30, St. Charles Parish voters will decide whether to allow disabled military veterans to double their homestead exemptions to $150,000.
The measure would lower property taxes for many of these residents, if they are homeowners.
By our estimates, there are approximately 66 individuals in the parish who would qualify for the additional exemption, meaning they have been classified as having a ‘100 percent service-related disability’ as defined by the U.S. Veterans Administration. The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana in October estimated that across the state, about 2,000 people fall into this category.
While the injuries I suffered in Vietnam place me in this category as well, this measure simply isn’t about me. It is unfortunate and unfair that recent news reports about this issue have used my own specific, personal situation as an example.
I continue to personally believe this measure is a positive one that will help disabled veterans in their continuing struggle, with a minimal impact on parish operating budgets. I would hold that belief whether I qualified for the exemption or not.
That being said, I have no intention of taking advantage of the measure if it is approved.
I consider myself extremely lucky. Through gracious assistance and my own determination, I was able to live a normal life after being shot 11 times, spending almost a month in a coma, and losing a leg and finger in battle. And I continue to relish the opportunity to be able to give back to my community through public service.
But not every disabled veteran is as lucky. Please remember that as you consider your vote on this issue.
V.J. St. Pierre, Jr.
St. Charles Parish President