Indiana National Guard

A new partnership aims to provide members of the Indiana National Guard with mental health and substance abuse care. Indiana National Guard behavioral health officer Maj. Scott Edwards says the program called “Mission Recovery,” tailored to service member’s needs.

“So when service members come they are meeting with a provider who understands more about the realities of being a military member,” Edwards says. “That’s hugely important for us and it’s key to the success in any kind of initiative where people come to get help for mental health or substance abuse problems.”

Annie Ropeik / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana is seeing a boom in manufacturing job creation – outpacing most of the country. And even more jobs will open up as baby boomers retire.

Many businesses are working harder to fill those jobs with military veterans, like 57-year-old Tim Turner.

Right now, he shares a house on a quiet street northwest of downtown Indianapolis with two other formerly homeless veterans.

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The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs wants to promote the benefits of hiring veterans, and teach employers to accommodate some of their unique needs. 

A summit on Wednesday is one in a chain of efforts aimed to decrease veteran unemployment.

In 2014, the unemployment rate among post-9-11 veterans was 10 percent, nearly double the state’s overall rate. 

Yet by the end of 2015, the rate among newer veterans dropped to just 1.4 percent. 

Deanna Pugh is the director of employment and education for the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

Brandon Smith / IPBS

Gov. Mike Pence Tuesday signed more than a dozen bills he says will expand benefits and opportunities for Indiana’s military servicemembers and veterans. 

Former Indiana National Guard Adjutant General Martin Umbarger was one of more than two dozen people gathered around the governor as he signed 13 bills into law. 

Umbarger says he’s particularly pleased with one that expands the Military Family Relief Fund.  That program was originally created to help post-9/11 veterans pay food, housing, utility, transportation and medical bills.  

Courtesy Governor Mike Pence

Governor Mike Pence joins 39 other governors in a bid to keep more National Guard military technicians from becoming federal employees. Section 1053 of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act states that a portion of uniformed employees would need to transition into civilian roles.

Col. Frederic A. Drummond Jr., Chicago District commander, speaks to Sen. Joe Donnelly during a Congressional Staff tour at Brandon Road Lock and Dam, Joliet, Ill., April 22, 2014.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District / https://www.flickr.com/photos/usacechicago/

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly says his latest effort on military suicide prevention aims to help servicemembers and veterans connect with mental health providers in their communities.  That follows up on Donnelly’s 2014 legislation that allowed all military members to receive annual mental health screenings.

Senator Joe Donnelly says his latest package of bills, recently signed into law, helps servicemembers find mental health providers attuned to their specific needs.  Donnelly says one way is to expand training beyond traditional mental health providers.

Governor Mike Pence has ordered enhanced security measures for Indiana’s National Guard in the wake of a shooting at a military installation in Chattanooga. 

Pence’s executive order directs the new head of the Indiana National Guard, Major General Courtney Carr, to work with the State Police, Homeland Security, and local law enforcement to beef up security at all National Guard facilities across the state, including recruiting storefronts. 

The National Guard / https://www.flickr.com/photos/33252741@N08/

Legislation approved by a Senate panel Tuesday aims to bolster financial protections for active duty National Guard members and reservists.

The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act doesn’t necessarily extend to those people, so the Attorney General’s office made a state-level protection bill part of its agenda for this session.

The measure helps protect Guard members and reservists who’ve been on active duty for at least 30 days from foreclosures and default.

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Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) says new legislation he’s sponsoring will help National Guard members who haven’t served oversees get a boost when applying for federal jobs. 

Those who have not served overseas currently receive no preference when applying for federal jobs.  Donnelly's bill, which has a Republican cosponsor, would create a new tiered system for federal hiring. 

Donnelly says he wants to help the thousands of veterans who aren’t recognized by the current preference system.

Indiana National Guard

The Indiana National Guard has named its first-ever African-American general.

A graduate of The Citadel, Col. Wayne Black joined the Indiana National Guard in 1996.  He is now the assistant adjutant general.  Black says he doesn’t feel any added pressure as the Indiana Guard’s first African-American general, in part because he didn’t ever feel like there was a ceiling to his advancement.

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