By Petty Officer 2nd Class Casey H. Kyhl / NAS Meridian Public Affairs Office
The Meridian Star
Mississippi is home to more than 28,000 veterans who have served since 9/11, and Gov. Phil Bryant is working to ensure they have access to jobs when they return from service.
The unemployment rate for veterans in the U.S. returning from the Global War on Terrorism was 10.8 percent in December, substantially higher than the national average of 7.8 percent over the same period.
Capt. Charles C. Moore II, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Meridian, who attended the signing of the Hire Mississippi Heroes proclamation on Wednesday, along with other local supporters agreed with the governor's ambitions.
"All efforts that enhance the employment opportunities for our nation's veterans are important and help ensure that citizens who have honorably served their country can more easily do the same in the civil sector," Moore said. "Legislation aligned with the Hiring Heroes Act is an excellent step in developing state and military relationships, while removing unnecessary barriers and significantly improving the quality of life for our nation's veterans and active duty military families."
Also attending the event was Staff Sgt. Darryl C. Coleman, an instructor and member of the staff at Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron One.
Coleman, a Quentin, Miss., native, said it was an honor for him to attend Wednesday's proclamation signing. "It made me feel proud to be from Mississippi and honored to know that the state is looking out for military members."
Gov. Bryant signed a proclamation Wednesday declaring 2013 as the year to Hire Mississippi Heroes, which will encourage employers to seek veteran candidates for positions. Bryant is working with two lawmakers to pass legislation that ensures returning veterans have jobs.
"Our many active duty, reserve and retired military members deserve to return to well paying jobs that allow these men and women to use skills learned in the military," Bryant said.
Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) Executive Director Mark Henry, Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard Agustus L. Collins and numerous representatives from service organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, joined Gov. Bryant for the announcement.
This proclamation was coupled with a Pledge to Hire Mississippi Heroes outreach program, in which MDES will assist employers that make the pledge in finding qualified veterans for open positions. MDES offers services for posting jobs, screening applications and sending referrals at no cost to participating Mississippi businesses.
"The Pledge to Hire Mississippi Heroes is a great opportunity for returning veterans and Mississippi businesses," Henry said. "Our WIN Job Centers can assist veterans with reentering the workforce and introduce Mississippi employers to the benefits of hiring veterans."
The governor recommends that licensing agencies grant temporary occupational licenses to qualified military spouses who relocate in Mississippi due to military transfer so these individuals can find jobs in the state while applying for professional licenses. Rep. Wanda Jennings and Sen. Briggs Hopson will sponsor the legislation.
To further aid returning veterans and their spouses in finding employment, Gov. Bryant will propose legislation requiring state licensing agencies to consider military job training received by returning veterans who apply for professional licenses.