The summer and fall months provide legislators the opportunity to study issues facing. Later this month, the Interim Study Committee on Public Safety and Military Affairs will meet to examine and review ways to better serve our veterans.
A new law enacted this session tasked this committee with examining the possibility of establishing six new districts in Indiana, each district staffed by a district veteran service officer. These officers would provide training and assistance to city and county veteran service officers. If created, district officers could lessen the workload of the state’s director of veterans affairs and allow local service officers to focus more of their time and resources on working with veterans on a personal basis. Specific areas in which these potential regional officers could help their local counterparts include securing federal accreditation and reaccreditation for local officers, and improving community outreach efforts. There are currently 20 Indiana counties that do not have an accredited service officer, which is a number the committee is hoping to decrease.
With Indiana home to approximately 550,000 veterans, this means too many veterans and their families are leaving federal benefits on the table, either because they are unaware or don’t know how to navigate the bureaucratic red tape. It’s both a shame and a serious problem, and it’s why we are considering the benefits of creating district veteran service officer positions.
Indiana continues to be a model for the rest of the nation when it comes to creating an environment in which veterans and their families can thrive. Our state has one of the lowest veteran unemployment rates in the country, and our state government has a purchase preference program for veteran-owned businesses. Nonetheless, it is important we continue to serve those who dedicated their lives to protecting our freedom.
After the upcoming series of committee meetings, we will make recommendations to the 2017 General Assembly to continue to promote and protect veterans’ quality of life. After taking a deep dive into these issues, legislators can continue to pass informed, effective laws benefitting not only veterans, but all Hoosiers.
Interim study committee hearings, which typically occur at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, can be viewed live at iga.in.gov. This site also provides committee calendars and meeting agendas. Members of the public are also welcomed to attend. If you would like to offer input or testimony at these hearings, I would encourage you to contact me at 317-232-9793 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at www.in.gov/h74.
State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
A high-resolution photo of Arnold can be downloaded by clicking here.