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Strategies to help veterans find jobs continue to expand in the Midwest, with Michigan, Iowa and Kansas among the states establishing new programs or policies in recent months.

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The U.S. military discharges 160,000 active service members and 110,000 Reserve and National Guard members each year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. About 32,000 of those veterans will join the ranks of nearly 1 million veterans already unemployed. For young, male veterans—ages 18-24—the picture is even bleaker: In 2011, one out of every three was looking for work, almost double the unemployment rate of their non-veteran peers. In response, employers are finding ways to match veterans with employment opportunities, and many of The Council of State Governments’ Associate members are working to hire veterans.

The Act makes it a Class C misdemeanor to use fraudulent military records to obtain benefits intended for those who have actually served in the military.

As a Vietnam veteran, Linda Schwartz saw firsthand the difficulties returning service members faced when re-entering civilian life.  As the commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Veterans' Affairs, Schwartz had one goal with regard to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: “I wanted to do better by the folks coming home today,” she said.  Thus was born the Oasis Centers in Connecticut, an East regional winner of The Council of State Governments’ 2012 Innovations Award.

US military personnel are also family members, neighbors, friends, colleagues, and constituents. They face tough challenges at home and abroad. In recent years, many have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and returned home. Some have physical and mental issues which hinder readjusting to life in the US after military service. Some need counseling, or help with housing, education, or employment. Here are websites they can use to get help and examples of state efforts to provide such help.

Here is a snapshot on employment and unemployment among the U.S. veteran population.  The figures are courtesy of a new report from the Department of Labor (DOL). 

Today, America honors the men and women who served or are serving in the military.  Here are several state laws which help veterans and their families. CSG has or will feature several of these laws in its Suggested State Legislation books.

This Act defines “veterans benefits appeal services” as services which a veteran might reasonably require in order to appeal a denial of federal or state veterans benefits, including but not limited to denials of disability, limited-income, home loan, insurance, education and training, burial and memorial, and dependent and survivor benefits. It directs that such services put in their advertising a notice that similar appeals services are offered at no cost by counties or veterans affairs offices operated by the state. 

This Act creates an evidentiary privilege against disclosing confidential communications between veterans or members of the military and veteran mentors. The privilege may be claimed by veterans or members of the military who make the communications, their representatives under certain circumstances, or by veteran mentors. 
The Act defines veteran mentor as an individual who is a veteran, is authorized by a circuit court judge to provide assistance and advice in a veterans mentoring program, has successfully completed judicially approved training, and has completed a background information form approved by a circuit court judge. Veterans mentoring programs are programs approved by a circuit court judge to provide assistance and advice about court related matters to veterans and current members of the Armed Forces. 
 
Military personnel and overseas civilians face a variety of challenges to their participation as voters in U.S. elections, despite repeated congressional and state efforts to facilitate their ability to vote. These include difficulty in registering abroad, frequent address changes, slow mail delivery or ballots and ballot applications that never arrive, difficulty in obtaining information about candidates or issues, the inability to comply with notarization or verification procedures, or the voter’s failure to properly comply with non-essential requirements for absentee materials. The federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (UOCAVA) and Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009 (MOVE), as well as the various state efforts, have not been wholly effective in overcoming difficulties that these voters face. The federal laws do not encompass state and local elections. Further, American elections are conducted at the state and local levels under procedures that vary dramatically by jurisdiction, and many are conducted independent of the federal elections to which UOCAVA and the MOVE Act do apply. This lack of uniformity, and lack of application of the federal statutes to state and local elections, complicates efforts to more fully enfranchise these voters. 
At its 2010 Annual Meeting, the national Uniform Law Commission promulgated the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act (UMOVA) to address these issues. UMOVA extends to state elections the assistance and protections for military and overseas voters currently found in federal law. It seeks greater harmony for the military and overseas voting process for all covered elections, over which the states will continue to have primary administrative responsibility.
 

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