Senator Scott Wilk: California's veterans need more than a once-per-year salute

From the mountains of Korean to the jungles of Southeast Asia and the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula our military men and women have gone above and beyond to protect the values we hold so dear to us in this great nation.

And each time the United States has asked, California has answered; providing more troops than any other state in the nation. Californian’s hear the call loud and clear, and we’ve answered it time and time again. But now we hear a different call, a call of veterans returned home. A call for services and support. A call that all too often, has gone unheard or unanswered.

Today is Veterans Day. Each year we celebrate the heroic and selfless actions of our military veterans as well we should, but this year I want to also draw attention to the issues these brave men and woman face sometimes decades after stepping off the battlefield.

California is currently home to over 2 million veterans. In the 21st Senate District we know the value our many vets bring to our community. But what many of us don’t know is the hardships many of our friends, neighbors and relatives returned from service are facing.

Twenty four percent of veterans say finding a mortgage paying job back home is the most challenging part of their post-military lives. This we must address. This year I supported legislation to ease regulations and streamline the process for veterans seeking state licenses to operate businesses, making it easier for our vets to start their own businesses here in California.

I also made sure that the new SCV Water agency would employ a ‘helmets to hardhats’ hiring approach when they staff up for the more than $200 million in planned water infrastructure projects, putting hundreds of veterans to work from throughout the 21st Senate District.

But this isn’t enough and as we honor the service of our veteran community we must honor that service in a meaningful and impactful way. We must honor it by solving problems and building bridges for that community. We must connect them with the services they need and deserve and we must help them find mortgage-paying jobs that support them and their families now and in to the future.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs I am blessed to have an opportunity to affect change in this area and I will do all I can in that role to ensure improved access to jobs, healthcare, mental health treatment and all the services veterans may need as they continue to return from serving our country both within our borders and around the globe.