Topeka, KS– Today Governor Laura Kelly joined leaders and advocates for military families for a roundtable discussion focused on how Kansas can continue its progress in knocking down barriers for military families looking to participate in the workforce. Topics addressed during the discussion included barriers to occupational licensure and the importance of expanding child care.
“As the daughter of a Purple Heart recipient, I know military personnel and their spouses are exactly the type of people we need in Kansas to fill the jobs we’ve created in recent years,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “My administration will always prioritize fostering a thriving workforce for Kansans and will continue knocking down the barriers military families face to getting and keeping a job.”
The discussion centered on how Kansas can build on the progress Governor Kelly has made in helping military families, veterans, and National Guardsmen and women access the workforce, especially regarding occupational licensing.
In 2021, Governor Kelly signed bipartisan House Bill 2066, which expedites the issuance of occupational credentials to military servicemembers and military spouses seeking to establish residency in Kansas. This legislation makes it easier for military spouses to transition into the Kansas workforce and spur new economic development.
This month, a national coalition of military advocacy groups launched Alliance for States Providing Interoperable Reciprocity (ASPIRE) to accelerate military reciprocity by and between states, making obtaining a license in a state to which military personnel and their families are deployed easier. ASPIRE representatives, including Terron Sims II, U.S. Army Veteran and Merit Advisor on Military Affairs, participated in the roundtable and discussed potential technological solutions.
“Today, we are at a critical juncture where we have both sound policy and a sound tool to improve the lives of Kansas’ military families,” Sims said. “It is incumbent upon us all to work together – to cut through the red tape and merge these two together to get the job done.”
The discussion also addressed ways Kansas can further promote workforce participation for veterans. Veterans like Ginger Miller, President and CEO of the Women Veterans Interactive Foundation, shared their stories.
“As a veteran and a military spouse, I know first-hand the challenges of transitioning to civilian life and getting into the workforce. My husband, who struggled with severe PTSD, my son and I were homeless. I was ashamed to ask for help. I had to work three jobs while attending school full time to pull us up. Often women veterans carry an extra heavy burden. That’s why we are proud to partner with the private sector, other NGOs and solution-oriented leaders like Governor Laura Kelly to make it easier for veterans and military families who give so much to our country to get back to the workforce earn a sustainable income and fulfill their life promise,” said Ginger Miller.
In September Governor Kelly announced the creation of the new Office of Registered Apprenticeship, which will expand and modernize apprenticeship programs in the state, with a particular focus on veterans and other underrepresented groups.
The Kelly Administration, in collaboration with the Commission on Veterans Affairs, has also created KanVet.org, a website for veterans to access employment resources and opportunities in Kansas.
Beyond Governor Kelly, the roundtable participants included:
- Perry Wiggins, Executive Director of the Governor’s Military Council
- Tomer Kagen, co-founder and CEO of Merit
- Representative Chris Croft, Kansas House of Representatives District 8
- Terron Sims, S. Army Veteran and Merit Advisor on Military Affairs
- Dr. Evelyn Lewis, United States Navy Veteran
- Terri Twombly, Lead Military and Family Readiness Specialist for the Adjutant General’s Department
- Holly Chapman, State Family Program Director for the Kansas Army National Guard