This week we’ve heard a clear call from our state’s veteran’s organizations, calling out in one unified voice for a deserved response to reports that Indiana is lacking in services for former members of the military. The crisis facing our state’s veterans is a direct repercussion of our legislature’s lack of action in addressing the critical needs of Indiana’s heroes, and has lead to the Hoosier state being listed as one of the nation’s worst states for military retirees last year.
Indiana currently ranks 46th in the nation when it comes to giving our veterans the benefits that they have earned, a deplorable ranking when we take into account the fact that our state has the fourth largest National Guard and the 16th largest veteran population in the country. We boast about the number of Hoosier men and women who have been so willing to give of themselves to defend our freedoms and our country, but when they return home we, as a legislative body, can’t seem to find the time or the resources to devote to ensuring that these veterans are given the services and resources they deserve.
Too many of the men and women who once wore our nation’s uniform now sleep in our city’s streets and alleyways. These are the men and women who have sacrificed of themselves to ensure our freedoms and who, for whatever reasons, have fallen through our safety nets. As long as these veterans are without shelter, without jobs, and without hope in our city’s streets, our legislative efforts and implemented programs cannot be considered completely successful.
The only solution to this growing problem facing our state is a bipartisan effort to ensure that Indiana is a safe place for our nation’s veteran’s to return home to. It is imperative that we set forward an aggressive strategy to address the lack of resources afforded to those who need them most. We must focus on all veterans, regardless of age, gender, employment status or the terms of their service and commit ourselves to creating a viable plan to make Indiana a better place for these veterans to build their lives and raise their families.
I know that we, the general assembly, are capable of passing legislation to aid and assist our veterans because I have been blessed to work with members of both parties in order to author and implement bills that are designed to give our heroes a helping hand. I’ve seen the amazing work that can be completed in the Statehouse when we put aside our political differences to unite under the cause of protecting those who fought to defend our rights. Together, we’ve created legislative efforts that assist veterans with financing a college education, establishing preferential employment policies, and ensuring that no man or woman in our state is discriminated against based on their dedicated service to our country.
While we’ve made great strides in recent years, we still have a long way to go in order to ensure our veterans are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. As long as these brave, capable men and women go to sleep hungry, cannot provide for their families, and suffer from the physical and mental scars of serving our nation, there is unfinished business that must be addressed. Our work will not be finished until every veteran in our state has a roof over their head, and every community has the tools in place to keep veterans from sliding back into poverty or homelessness.
-State Representative Karlee Macer
House District 92