The National Association of Broadcasters recently held its annual convention in Las Vegas. As part of the event, the trade group sponsored a seminar to advise employers about the value of hiring veterans. The audience included many veterans as well as employers. Employers said they were eager to hire qualified candidates who had military backgrounds.
The keynote speaker was retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who told the group that, “There’s a set of values in the military that one does not find in a lot of civilian life.” He stressed what he said was a fact that most veterans who take civilian positions are loyal employees who know how to follow instructions and see a job through to the end.
Of special interest in his presentation was his statement that he has been working with select members of Congress to make a major change in the current G.I. Bill.
Although many former servicemen and women use their benefits for education, he would like Washington to allow the money to be used instead by veterans to start businesses. He said that post-World War II, 49 percent of veterans started their own businesses, and “many are still around today.” But he reported that today, less than 69 percent of veterans start their own enterprises.
He wants to “re-engineer” the G.I. Bill so that in place of education, qualified veterans can use the available funds to begin their own companies. Although there are no Nevada legislators involved at this time, he named several leaders he is working with to make the change happen, including congressmen and senators. Two of the most prominent are Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., (Graham served on active duty and is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves); and Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas. Flynn said he expects Congress to approve the change.
Another speaker was Tony Forbes, director for outreach and engagements for the Nevada Department of Veterans Services. He told the group about the local PBS station’s program that helps transition veterans to civilian life. He also suggested that employers ask themselves two questions about their companies: Are you veteran- friendly? And are you veteran- ready? He said some firms initially assign individuals to work with recently hired veterans in their organizations.
During the question and answer portion, audience member Bill Deutch of Linear Media Inc. reported that he produces a syndicated television program entitled “Hiring America,” which he described as a show dedicated to finding jobs for veterans. Currently in 80 markets and on the Armed Forces Network, it has yet to find a home in Nevada, but Deutch said he has been contacting local stations in hopes of being on the air here.
Separately, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports there are 22 million U.S. veterans, including 2 million female veterans. Both Flynn and Deutch were asked if there are outreach programs for older veterans who often find it difficult to compete against younger counterparts. They both said that their various efforts include veterans of all ages. A National Association of Broadcasters spokesman pointed out that veterans (and others) seeking careers in broadcasting should start by going to the organization’s website, broadcastcareerlink.com.
In March, the Nevada Legislature hosted Veterans and Military Day in its chambers in Carson City. Several hundred veterans and several dozen active-duty personnel were on hand to speak with their respective senators and assemblymen, as well as to hear an address by Gov. Brian Sandoval and witness him signing a bill into law.
Katherine Miller, director of the Nevada Department of Veteran Services, was the mistress of ceremonies during the outdoor portion of the event, held in front of the Veterans Wall on the state’s government grounds.
Gov. Sandoval said, “Veterans and Military Day is a solemn day.” He added that he wanted Nevada to be “the most military- and veterans-friendly state in the nation.”
Along those lines he reported that the start of construction of a state veterans home in Northern Nevada is close to becoming a reality. Regarding Southern Nevada, he noted that groundbreaking for the veterans memorial in Las Vegas will be held Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) and the memorial is scheduled open on Memorial Day in 2016. The project will be set on the grounds of the Grant Sawyer Building, not far from downtown. Once set in place, it will be donated to the state.
At the end of the ceremony, Sandoval signed a law extending the length of time from two to five years for veterans with honorable discharges to receive tuition waivers from a Nevada higher-education school.
“The new law is another step toward continuing my goal” of making Nevada the most hospitable veterans state in the nation, he said. Additional pieces of legislation affecting Nevada’s veterans are currently in various committees and are expected to be voted on soon. Asked if he felt they would pass, he said, “I’m very confident.” When asked if the financing for the new programs was already in the budget, he said “If we don’t have the money, we’ll get it.”
Journalist and author Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a recipient of the Purple Heart. He can be heard each Thursday from 8-9 p.m. on “The Veterans Reporter Radio Show” on KLAV 1230 AM.