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[r29] Column: Fighting for Veterans
Start Date: 11/6/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 11/6/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description
Fighting for Veterans

Each day, our country’s servicemen and women, distinguished individuals with the highest of character and pride in our country, serve to protect us, abroad and overseas. They put themselves in harm’s way, not just for us, but for countless other people who are vulnerable to the atrocities of oppression and war. Fighting for liberty and the pursuit of happiness rings true for everyone from every corner of our great landscape, and I couldn’t be more proud and humbled to know that we deploy the very best. 

For these reasons and countless more, veterans deserve a hero’s welcome when they return home.

This Monday is Veterans Day. Almost a hundred years ago, in 1919, President Wilson proclaimed that November 11 would be Armistice Day, and we have recognized the efforts of our military ever since. Even with this long history of admiration and respect, today, there is still much to be done for returning veterans, especially in Indiana. Currently, the unemployment rate for veterans in Indiana is 20.1 percent – more than double the state’s unemployment rate, ranking Indiana 47th in the country. This is simply unacceptable.

We passed multiple bills last session in order to help veterans and get them the services they need. A lot of the time, it starts with an education. By granting in-state tuition rates for honorably discharged veterans and active Indiana National Guard members enrolled in state universities and colleges, the Indiana General Assembly made post-secondary education more affordable for veterans. 

The wait times and backlog for veterans receiving their benefits is being reduced because more training, and ultimately a certification, is now available for local veterans’ service officers. By receiving the certification, veterans’ service officers will have direct access to veterans’ records from the Veterans Administration. This reduces a bureaucratic step in having to solely rely on the federal government for access.

Opportunities for employment are the most important part of this equation for returning servicemen and women.  For veterans with military emergency medical services experience, they will be able to be immediately licensed. Previous law required veterans who were already trained in these services to have to be retrained, an unnecessary obstacle. 

But even with all of these new laws, we can still do more. Veterans have made so many sacrifices for each of us in upholding our liberties and keeping us safe. Every veteran deserves the opportunity to work and provide for their family when they return home from duty.

Businesses can do their part by being more accessible to hiring veterans through the Veteran Opportunity Partners program. This initiative encourages businesses to hire veterans and has a simple application process. When a veteran goes to apply for a job through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, these companies will show up in their searches. 

I encourage locally owned businesses to apply to join the Department of Veterans’ Affairs as a Veteran Opportunity Partner. A business listed as a Veteran Opportunity Partner shows veterans that the organization supports their service and recognizes the intangibles that a veteran brings to the workforce. 

For more information on joining this program, please visit www.in.gov/dva/2689.htm or by calling the Department of Veterans’ Affairs at 1-800-400-4520. If you are a veteran looking for employment, feel free to use the job search on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website at www.in.gov/dva/2696.htm

I will continue to support our men and women in uniform and work to provide more opportunities to be available right here in central Indiana. Veterans are leaders in our communities, churches and schools, and the state can do more to recognize their efforts. Indiana has become a national leader in job growth; let’s be a national leader in supporting our troops as well. 
 
-30-

My column also appears in the Times in Noblesville.
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: (317) 232-9831
Email: nicholas.goodwin@iga.in.gov
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    House of Representatives Republican Caucus

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