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In Iowa, the state and some of its local governments are trying to send a clear message to military veterans: We Want You. The Home Base Initiative is a public-private partnership that is marketing job opportunities to veterans across the country and doing more to welcome this population to Iowa.

Wendy Lewis went from military service to school and seemed to be lacking one key to success in life outside the Army—structure. Lewis recently participated on a student panel during a Council of State Governments Policy Academy, “Veterans Initiatives: Increasing Educational Attainment.” The goal of the five panels, according to Marshall Thomas, director of Veterans Affairs Services at California State Long Beach and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, was to discuss how to go beyond simply saying “thank you for your service,” and how to best help veterans achieve educational success.

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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. 

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