Call to Order and Roll Call
The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, June 8, 2017, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Tim Moore, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Albert Robinson, Co-Chair; Representative Tim Moore, Co-Chair; Senators C.B. Embry Jr., Ernie Harris, Dennis Parrett, Wil Schroder, and Mike Wilson; Representatives Robert Benvenuti III, Regina Bunch, Tom Burch, Jeffery Donohue, Myron Dossett, Jeff Greer, Mark Hart, Dan Johnson, DJ Johnson, Donna Mayfield, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Brandon Reed, Rob Rothenburger, Dean Schamore, and Walker Thomas.
Guests: Chief Jeff Pohlman, Alexandria Fire Department; Col. (Ret.) Blaine Hedges, Executive Director, Stacey Shane, Executive Assistant, Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs (KCMA); and Heather French Henry, Deputy Director, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs (KDVA).
LRC Staff: Erica Warren, Jessica Zeh, Jonathan Philpot, and Rhonda Schierer.
Chief Jeff Pohlman from the Alexandria Fire Department was recognized as a distinguished veteran. He gave a brief description of his position and led the committee in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs Briefing
Col. Blaine Hedges, Executive Director for the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs (KCMA), gave a PowerPoint presentation on KCMA’s vision, mission, strategic goals, and desired outcomes. Colonel Hedges stated that KCMA’s vision is to ensure that Kentucky achieves its full potential in supporting and partnering with our military while creating enduring economic opportunity for the Commonwealth. KCMA’s mission is guided by Kentucky statute and the KCMA addresses all matters of military significance by advising and nesting efforts with key stake holders, protecting and growing our military installations and activities, expanding its defense-related industry, and improving the quality of life for our service members, veterans, and their families in order to fulfill an obligation of never-ending support to our military population and the citizens of Kentucky. Colonel Hedges explained that the end goal is to grow our installations and National Guard missions, functions, and personnel end-strength and to increase Kentucky’s $12 billion dollar defense economic impact by $2 billion.
KCMA’s strategic goals are to protect and grow DoD installations and activities; expand economic impact of Kentucky’s defense-related industry; develop and implement the model for transitioning service members, veterans, and spouses; establish Kentucky as the most military friendly state in the nation and grow veteran and retiree populations; and to communicate strategically in order to gain inter-agency, inter-governmental and public-private partnership support for strong military advocacy. The desired outcomes from the strategic goals include grow military personnel missions/functions, increase defense economy by $2 billion dollars, fill Kentucky critical job shortages, expand military legislative benefits and population, and gain advocacy with all stakeholders.
Colonel Hedges discussed the KY model for transitioning service members, veterans, and spouses. To achieve successful transitioning, it is important to synchronize effort and cooperation by all stakeholders, determine state cabinet responsibilities and gain buy-in/ownership, develop a comprehensive national recruitment strategy-face of Kentucky, emphasize and execute a strategic level communication plan, use best practice accelerated existing programs, tap into the transitioning service member markets across the state and the nation, make Kentucky most military friendly state in the nation, and target and promote military spouse employment.
Phase I will be creating the Kentucky Service Members/Veterans Career Transition Centers to partner with service members transitioning out of the military service to build upon increasing military residency population and a qualified workforce. The Fort Knox Career Skills Program will focus on mid-senior level management for a fellowship program, Lean Six Sigma certification, project manager program certification, and entrepreneurial training. Fort Campbell Career Skills Program will focus on veterans who are 20-26 years of age and include veterans in piping, mechatronics, hiring our hero’s corporate fellowship, Tiller Transition to Trades HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, and Microsoft. Colonel Hedges added that Phase I is Career Skills Synchronization, Phase II is Establish Career Transition Centers, and Phase III is Incorporate Civilians.
In response to a question from Chairman Moore, Colonel Hedges explained that tax reform would be a way for legislators to help craft policy. He stated that he would like to have a study completed from property taxes to fishing licenses and then present them to the legislature.
World War I Centennial Events Update
Heather French Henry, Deputy Director, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs (KDVA), gave a PowerPoint presentation on the WWI Centennial Committee. There are 27 local, state, and national organizations represented on the KY WWI Centennial Committee. The names of these 27 are listed in the PowerPoint which is a part of this official record. The Kentucky WWI Centennial Committee has embarked on a three-year commemorative effort to remember and honor Kentucky’s role in “The Great War.” The commemoration begins April 6, 2017 and will conclude in the summer of 2019 with dates being highlighted throughout. The mission is to promote events, highlight important historic dates, and to honor our military and civilians who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.
Deputy Commissioner Henry told of three important historical dates: April 6, 1917 – US Entrance into WWI, November 3, 1917 - Camp Zachary Taylor opens in Louisville and November 11, 1918 – Armistice Day. She discussed the statewide proclamations and WWI opinion editorials.
In an effort to add an interactive component to this commemoration, KDVA has developed the KY WWI Poppy Project. Poppies have been the symbol of remembrance dating back to WWI in 1915 when Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in fields which led him to write the famous poem, “In Flanders Field.” The KY Poppy Project goals are to collect as many poppies as possible; to add the “Poppy Wall” at the 2017 KY State Fair; and to line the Capitol steps with thousands of poppies to close out the KY WWI Commemoration in 2019. The KY WWI displays at this year’s state fair will include an 80’ x 119’ exhibit in the South Wing Educational Area, Camp Zachary Taylor barracks by Home Depot, an interactive trench display, and a poppy wall. Fairgoers will make poppies to add to the wall in honor of our WWI heroes. All of these projects and exhibits have been made possible with donations and help from many agencies, corporations, and individuals. The KDVA and Deputy Commissioner French Henry have managed all of this on a budget of zero dollars.
Chairman Moore announced that the Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Interim Joint Committee will meet in August at the new Radcliff Veteran’s Center and will be touring Fort Knox. Staff will notify members of the specific August date after it is approved.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.