Strengthening Indiana for Hoosier veterans

Posted by: Kelly Sweeney  | Monday, April 14, 2014 8:00 am

America’s legacy was built on the foundation created by our brave service men and women. Whether they defended our nation’s borders overseas or assisted Hoosiers during the harsh winter months, we need to do everything we can to make Indiana the best place for veterans to live, work and raise a family.

Our state has a history of passing legislation to benefit Hoosier veterans. Since 2012, we expanded help under the Military Family Relief Fund, created the Combat to College program and assisted veteran owned small businesses. Building on that momentum this year, I worked on legislation that will further strengthen Indiana for Hoosier veterans.

I was honored to co-sponsor Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 331 which establishes the Second Service for Veterans program. Many skills that are taught in the military are easily transferable into the teaching profession. This legislation helps connect more veterans with a job in this field. Under this legislation, state universities are able to provide scholarship opportunities as well as college credits to honorably discharged veterans that pursue a degree in education. Additionally, this law requires state universities to develop a plan to attract more veterans into the education field.

This session, I championed legislation to help the state process certain military documents more efficiently. When soldiers are called to serve, especially while deployed, many time-sensitive documents require validation to receive certain benefits or promotions on-time. In the past, military officers were able to notarize these documents for both active and reserve components of the Indiana National Guard. Recently, the Department of Defense determined that they could no longer validate these documents unless it was declared by state law. Collaborating with Secretary of State Connie Lawson, I authored House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1041 which adds language to the Indiana Code that allows Indiana’s Adjutant General as well as anyone they designate to the list of officials able to notarize these documents.

I was particularly pleased we passed legislation this session making it illegal for employers to discriminate against veterans. It is hard to imagine that anyone could discriminate against those who devoted their lives to serve this country but unfortunately, these situations occur. As the Employment, Labor and Pensions Chairman, this bill was assigned to my committee, and I was proud to support it. This new law not only addresses the issue of veteran discrimination, but also creates more job opportunities for them.

Although the legislative session is over and much was accomplished, my work to improve our community and state is ongoing. You can visit www.in.gov/legislative for additional information about these and other bills that passed the Indiana General Assembly. As always, I encourage you to contact me by emailing h16@iga.in.govor call 317-232-9509 with any thoughts, concerns or suggestions that you may have so that we can work together to improve our community and state.

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