By Cameron Mattern
Editor’s note: This is the 26th in a series of stories about new laws that are taking effect, most of them on July 1.
INDIANAPOLIS — The state is using a new law to thank veterans for their service by giving service members and their spouses preferential treatment for employment and training.
“The legislation certainly strengthens and codifies the practices we have in place and the legislature recognizing the importance of veterans in the workforce,” said Nick Goodwin, chief strategy officer for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
The law requires the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to give a veteran or their spouse priority for placement in any federal or state employment or training program administered by the department. The veteran or spouse must submit documentation showing the veterans honorable discharge from service and must meet the eligibility requirements for the program.
Indiana has the lowest unemployment rate of veterans in the United States at 1.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Employment Situation of Veterans-2016” report. The District of Columbia takes the number one spot with the highest veteran unemployment at 7.6 percent.
Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, authored the bill and said Hoosiers should be celebrating the low unemployment rate for veterans, but also trying to build upon the success and not “resting on our laurels.”
“It is commonly felt that veterans bring not only a unique skill set to the workforce but also a fantastic work ethic,” said Hershman, “and we want to ensure that those highly motivated folks have every opportunity to develop the skill set they need to meet the job market required by today’s employers.”
In 2016, the Indiana Department of Workforce and Development and its WorkOne Career centers helped more than 10,000 Hoosier veterans and put more than 1,000 into employment opportunities.
“Veterans tend to stick to something that they believe in, so they are looking for employers that will do the same for them,” said Michael Thompson, state veterans’ program director for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. “It goes back their core values that they have and are taught in the military.”
The law goes into effect on July 1.
Cameron Mattern is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.