STATEHOUSE — State Representative Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) along with House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis), Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) and State Representative Steve Braun (R-Zionsville) were joined by Brig. Gen. Brian R. Copes, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Indiana National Guard and Dr. Charles Haenlein the President and CEO of the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF) to address the high unemployment rate of Hoosier veterans.
Last week, House Bill (HB) 1002, the Indiana Career Council (ICC) was amended to incorporate veterans. HB 1002 is designed to improve coordination, communication and vision for Indiana’s workforce training and career preparation systems. The ICC is a panel that will bring the principal stakeholders in the state’s workforce development efforts to a single table, with the Governor as its chair.
“Unemployed Hoosier veterans are such an important aspect to this bill,” said Rep. Smaltz. “While Indiana continues to be consistent in job growth and economic development, we still have a high unemployment rate for our post 9/11 veterans. We, as grateful Hoosiers, must work to find ways to help the men and women who have volunteered to sacrifice, in some cases everything, to protect us. This is one such way. The ICC will work to address the needs of these veterans by collecting and sharing data in a way that coordinates all elements of Indiana’s workforce development system.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterans service members have a national unemployment rate of 10 percent; Indiana’s veteran’s unemployment rate doubles the national average. Members of the ICC will be charged with aligning the education skills and training provided by Indiana’s educational, job skills and career training systems with the existing and projected needs of the state’s job market. The ICC will also be charged with submitting recommendations to the General Assembly on necessary improvements to Indiana’s job skills training system.
“Post 9/11 veterans face a state unemployment rate of 20 percent,” said Dr. Charles Haenlein, President and CEO of HVAF of Indiana. “With over 20 years of experience serving Hoosier veterans, we are excited to bring our unique perspective to the Career Council to better address the needs of returning veterans.”
Indiana has the fourth largest National Guard force in the United States with 12,112 troops. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, there have been 19,557 tours to Iraq and Afghanistan by individual members of the Indiana National Guardsmen.
Part of the strategic plan required by the ICC will be to propose changes to make Indiana a leader in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) employment opportunities. Currently, there are 2.4 STEM jobs for every unemployed person. Because the rate of unemployment is so high among returning servicemen and women, the amendment has the ICC seek input from military and veterans organizations.
"The Indiana National Guard is deeply appreciative of the efforts by the Ind. House of Representatives to create expanded employment and training opportunities for veterans and military service members," said Brig. Gen. Brian Copes, Indiana National Guard Chief of Joint Staff. "The opportunity for military and veteran leaders to help inform this dialogue is a gracious and welcome gesture."