A number of measures are being proposed this legislative session, aimed at retaining and attracting military veterans to Nebraska.
Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue says many of those measures take direct aim at those now serving at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha.
“Retain those veterans who work at Offutt, who are stationed at Offutt, encourage them when they retire to stay here, but also to actually go out to other states and recruit veterans here,” Crawford tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The proposals, sponsored by a variety of state lawmakers, take on a variety of issues. Still, many deal with veteran pocket book issues, such as exempting military pensions from the state income tax, creating voluntary hiring preferences for veterans, and providing a wage subsidy for unemployed veterans. Another even seeks to increase the health care choices for veterans.
While the measures would benefit veterans living throughout the state, they are intended to entice those stationed at Offutt to consider staying here after they retire.
Crawford says military families often are first introduced to Nebraska when stationed at Offutt.
“So, I here sometimes military families talk about they came to Offutt kicking and screaming,” Crawford says with a laugh. “But then they come to Offutt and they experience our schools and I’ve had military families tell me, sometimes, this is the first state where they’ve had their children in public schools. So, they come and they see the quality of life here.”
Crawford says it’s important to retain those stationed at Offutt as well as attract military veterans from other states.
In 2014, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Nebraska Department of Labor, Nebraska’s community colleges and several employers to create “The Good Life for Veterans” initiative to recruit those leaving the military to move to Nebraska to start a second career.
Since its creation, “The Good Life for Veterans” has had a presence at three career fairs at Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Riley, Kansas; and Fort Carson, Colorado, reaching over 1,000 veterans and military members, according to the Chamber.