Now that the Indiana General Assembly is over half-way through, our elected officials still have plenty of time to address the critical needs of Hoosier veterans. Although there were a plethora of bills addressing many problems faced by veterans introduced, only very few are still alive…but that is the legislative process. However, there are several issues and opportunities that should be addressed post haste. First, and foremost, the legislature must address the Indiana Veteran/National Guard suicide crisis and the devastating impact of PTSD and traumatic brain injury suffered by our Hoosier troops.
Indiana Legislators should be creative and innovative in addressing the needs of our veterans; but they can also lead the State to leverage Federal resources to connect our veterans to existing services. The Federal Veterans Administration has stated that an average of 36 percent of all veterans should be receiving some type of disability compensation, but here in Indiana, we are only at 26 percent. At only 26 percent, our disabled veterans from Indiana bring in over two billion dollars and support services a year to our state. If the state can achieve the VA’s targeted standard, that would be another $980 million coming in to Indiana to our disabled veterans…which will also boost our local communities economically.
The legislature also has several opportunities to make permanent the Pence Administration’s appointment of a State Women Veteran Coordinator. Other immediate needs include treatment courts to address the growing problem of veterans suffering PTSD entering our judicial system and protecting the employment of deployed troops. There are many issues facing veterans that should be addressed over time, but the critical issues must be handled sooner than later.
Nationally, Indiana has the 16th largest veterans population and the 4th largest National Guard. We have over 475,000 veterans statewide. That says a lot about our state; yet when it comes to bringing in benefits for our military and veterans and programs for them, Indiana ranks 47th up from 48th.
Our military personnel have honorably served both state and country; all making a sacrifice for all of us. It is time for the General Assembly and the citizens of our State to answer the call of duty and support our troops and Hoosier veterans!
Women’s Liaison, AMVETS Indiana
Service Officer, American Legion Post 438