This task force was created in 2007 to address issues affecting military-community relations and the health and well-being of veterans. Among the issues covered: development near military installations; military-community partnerships to respond to mission change; veteran hiring and procurement preferences; mental health, substance abuse and family relationships facing returning veterans; and benefits for military personnel, veterans and their dependents.
The task force consists of 54 state legislators and legislative staff from 29 states.
Monday, Aug. 8, 2016
Tour: Northrop Grumman Corporation (Rolling Meadows, Ill.)
Task force members and invited guests visited defense contractor Northrop Grumman’s innovative facility in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Current projects include Directional Infrared Countermeasures, systems that protect U.S. and allied aircraft from heat-seeking, shoulder-fired missiles, and LITENING - a targeting system used by the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps.
NCSL Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs Convenes
- Representative Dan Flynn, Texas, Task Force Co-Chair:
Pledge of Allegiance
Recognition of Sponsors - NCSL is grateful for the financial support provided to the NCSL Military and Veterans Task Force by:
- U.S. Department of Defense
- Northrop Grumman Corporation
- Dominion Resources
Introductions around the room
Meeting Packet Review: Jim Reed, NCSL
Services for Veterans in the State of Illinois: Briefing from the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs
The task force heard about services for veterans provided by our host state. Task force members had the opportunity to ask questions after the presentation.
- Erica Jeffries, director, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Suicide Prevention and the Role of the States
A July 2016 Veterans Administration study concluded that in 2014, 7,403 veterans took their own lives. This accounted for 18 percent of all suicides in America, while veterans make up less than 9 percent of the U.S. population. Burdened with mental health issues, post-traumatic stress, and addiction issues, too many military veterans consider and act upon suicidal thoughts as an option to the relief of their suffering. This session identified effective suicide prevention initiatives and programs, both those operated by governments and those run by veterans.
- Rep. Martha Jane King, Kentucky
- Rob Trigg, Jr., founder, Formation 22
- Marine Nelson, SSVF team leader, Thresholds, Chicago, Illinois
Task force members discussed initiatives for veteran suicide prevention in their home states.
Update: Texas Military Department (TMD)
A former member of this task force will give an update on activities in Texas particularly relating to the role of the TMD in disaster relief, emergency missions and border issues.
- Bill Wilson, executive director, Texas Military Department | Presentation
Helping our Military Vote
Since the Civil War, it’s been official policy to get ballots to and from those serving in the military. What’s the modern day equivalent of the Pony Express that ensures ballots are sent to overseas citizens at least 45 days before Election Day and returned in time to be counted? If that means using the Internet, what are the security concerns, and are there any work-arounds that are foolproof?
- Matt Boehmer, director, Federal Voting Assistance Program, U.S. Department of Defense, Washington, D.C. | Presentation
Task Force Legislative Updates and Wrap-Up
Task force members provided brief updates on 2016 enacted legislation.
Workforce Development and Veterans Employment
Joint session with the NCSL Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs and the Labor and Economic Development Committee
Returning members of the armed forces bring a wealth of skills, knowledge and leadership back home with them. As deployments continue to wind down, employers and veterans alike must learn to navigate this unique job market and extensive influx of talent. The group discussed best practices and learned how the right policies can benefit both our nation's businesses and its finest heroes.
- Michael Michaud, assistant secretary, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.
- Darrell Roberts, Helmets to Hardhats, Washington D.C.
- Brian Huseman, vice president for public policy, Amazon, Washington, D.C.
Additional Sessions of Interest
The Military, Your Community and the Economy
Defense cuts and the threat of a future Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) have created a perfect storm of challenges—and economic opportunities—for states and local governments that host military installations. The group heard from leaders on the front line and then worked in small groups on innovative policies on land use, energy facility siting, preserving agricultural land and more.
- Tim Ford, executive director, Association of Defense Communities, Washington, D.C.
- Jennifer L. Miller, SES deputy assistant secretary (installations), U.S. Department of the Air Force, Washington, D.C.
- Tom Neubauer, vice chair, Florida Defense Support Task Force | Presentation
- Delegate Richard Anderson, Virginia
State Disability Employment Policy Developments in 2016
This interactive session addressed state policy trends in disability employment in 2016. Hear about progress on the National Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities, convened by NCSL and the Council of State Governments.
- Kyle Ingram, NCSL Disability and Employment policy specialist, Colorado
- Donna Smith, Easterseals Project ACTION, Washington D.C.
- Kimberly Mercer, transition manager, Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services, Chicago Public Schools
A Hero’s Best Friend: Regulating Service Animals
Taking advantage of a largely unregulated system, many people have purchased fake service animal certifications to allow their pets’ access to places they shouldn’t go. But many veterans and others rely on service dogs to cope with physical disabilities, PTSD and other injuries. See what states are doing to curb this problem and protect the individuals who truly need service animals.
- David Favre, Nancy Heathcote Professor of Property and Animal Law, Michigan State College of Law | Presentation
- Heather Anderson, fundraising coordinator, War Dogs Making it Home, Illinois | Presentation
- A.J. Ferguson, veteran, and his service dog Kala, graduate from War Dogs Making it Home, Illinois | No Presentation
Next meeting: In conjunction with the NCSL Capitol Forum, Decc 5-9, 2016, in Washington, D.C.