By DeAnn Vaught

Veterans live and work in every community of Arkansas.We are their friends, their family, their co-workers, and their neighbors. It is up to us to ensure that every veteran feels that his or her service to this country is appreciated.

There are ways every Arkansan can help our veterans. Shop at your local businesses that support the military and hire veterans. Reach out to your veteran community and find ways to volunteer. We can all teach our children about the sacrifices veterans have made and create a new generation of appreciation.

But the easiest way is to simply say, “Thank you for what you have done for our country.”

On this Veterans Day, we would like to say a special thank you to the more than 219,000 veterans who call Arkansas home.

Every session, we introduce legislation to make Arkansas a better place for our military members and vets. In the most recent session, we passed legislation to make it easier for military spouses to find employment quickly and legislation paving the way for an extensive study on veteran affairs in our state.

Act 551 directs the House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth, and Legislative and Military Affairs and the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs to meet jointly to conduct the Arkansas Legislative Study on Veterans Affairs. The study aims to examine veterans’ issues in the state, including the occurrence of suicide among the veteran population. The committees have conducted town-hall-style meetings across the state to hear from veterans. They will use the information they’ve gathered to make recommendations for the 2021 Regular Session.

We also passed Act 820. This legislation states an occupational licensing entity shall grant active military members and returning veterans, as well as spouses of active military and returning veterans, with automatic licensure to engage in an occupation or profession if they have an equivalent license in another state.

And in 2017, we passed legislation exempting military retirement benefits from state income tax.

We look forward to continued progress. May we continue to make our state a place our vets are proud to call home.

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