Veterans First Graphic

Helping our veterans who have served our state and nation so well — and often at great personal sacrifice — as well as those serving now is exactly what two recently announced programs from the state and federal governments do.

On the state level, House Bill 391, which passed unanimously in the 2019 legislative session, created the "Veterans First" initiative to promote veteran-owned businesses.

And on the federal level, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has joined with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's "Hiring Our Heroes" initiative to support military spouse employment at the VA and throughout the federal government.

The "Veterans First" program allows veterans, active-duty personnel, Gold Star families and reserve-military business owners to complete a certification process, overseen by Louisiana Economic Development and the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, which will add their business to a publicly searchable data-base at The site already has about 250 businesses listed.

"I applaud it. I think the business owners or even the governments need to continually seek out those veterans," said Thomas Green, Veterans Coalition of Lake Charles chairman.

The "Hiring Our Heroes" program will help veterans and military families and help reduce the high unemployment rate for military spouses.

"This type of intergovernmental collaboration to promote hiring and retention of military spouses is important not only for current servicemen and women and their families, but also for veterans and their families," said VA secretary Robert Wilkie. "Military spouses bring a unique perspective to the federal workplace, and I am proud that VA is leading the charge in this area."

The effort will encourage both the use of the military spouse hiring authority, as well as federal government participation in the Department of Defense's "Military Spouse Employment Partnership."

These state and federal efforts will encourage both the use of veteran owned-businesses, as well as supporting our veterans and military families. The programs also strengthen our military and likewise our national defense by helping those who have served as well as those currently serving to keep us safe and free.

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