Letter: Addressing the needs of our veterans

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Editor,

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!

Lisa Wilken

Women’s Liaison, AMVETS Indiana

Service Officer, American Legion Post 438

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1 Comment

  1. Jane Thurston on

    On October 3, 2012 the National Commander of The American Legion, Jim Koutz, testified on Capitol Hill. Commander Koutz is a Hoosier from Boonville. One of his priorities was getting a female veteran service officer in each state’s Department of Veterans Affairs. Commander Koutz deferred to Verna Jones so that she could speak on the importance of this issue. Verna Jones now serves as the National Executive Director of The American Legion in Washington D.C. I recently spoke with the Chairman of the IN House Veterans and Public Safety Committee. Rep. Randall Frye stated that he had no plans to give SB 424 a hearing. When I asked why, he stated that he and the Governor had an agreement. He felt “we have everything we want.” Maybe he and the Governor, but not the women veterans. The American Legion Auxiliary stands 40,000 plus strong in Indiana and close to three-quarters of a million strong nation-wide. The Department of Indiana American Legion Auxiliary stand as advocates for all military and veterans in our state. In recent years we have been especially concerned with gender specific issues that women face. The position in question in SB424 went unfilled for approximately one year. We want to see SB424 passed in order to prevent that from happening again. Rep. Frye, schedule SB424 for a hearing. Jane Thurston, Department of Indiana ALA Legislative Chairman

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