Bradley Byrne speaks to military.

Bradley Byrne speaks to military.

Members of the United States military, reserves or Alabama National Guard who return to their Alabama homes after completing active duty deployment outside the United States would be eligible for a new real estate tax credit as part of Operation Giving Back, a plan Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne says he would implement as governor to strengthen state services and support for Alabama's military heroes.

Byrne, who was in Birmingham Wednesday to remember and honor America's veterans by attending several events included in the city's 62nd Annual National Veteran's Day celebration, met with reporters just before the start of the traditional Veteran's Day Parade to share his perspective on Alabama's responsibility for "giving back to those who have given so much" and to outline some of his plans for upholding that responsibility.

"If given the privilege to serve as governor, I will work hard to make sure Alabama is second to none when it comes to standing up for our veterans. I will commit the efforts of my administration to making Alabama the most welcoming state in the nation for veterans and their families," Byrne said.

Byrne's plans for strengthening the state's support system for Alabamians who have served in the armed forces are included in Operation Giving Back - an initiative he said he will launch immediately upon taking office. "We are just beginning to thoroughly consider the ways we might better help our service men and women, but seeing this project to full implementation would be a top priority in my administration."

Among the initiatives Byrne has included to date are programs to:
• provide an additional homestead exemption tax credit for U.S. military personnel, reservists and Alabama National Guard members who return to their Alabama homes after having been deployed on active duty outside the United States;
• provide resources to supplement the $300 burial allowance provided to qualifying veterans by the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs; and
• convene an expert Advisory Council on Serving Those Who Have Served to assess existing programs for veterans, study 'best practices' in other states for possible replication in Alabama, conduct town hall listening posts to hear straight from the voices of our veterans, and recommend ways the state can better meet the real needs of today's active duty personnel and veterans.

"It's a testament to the spirit of our state that nearly one out of every 10 Alabamians is a military veteran. And it's only right that we should honor them with tributes and special events to commemorate their sacrifices and bravery," said Byrne.

"But as the War on Terror goes on, as families continue to be separated by active duty deployments, and as our troops continue to return home to new challenges and economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever that we recognize the full extent of their sacrifices and provide the kind of care and support they really need and so richly deserve."

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