North Carolina’s military presence is one of the largest in the US — the state falls only behind California,Texas, and Virginia in total number of active service members and reservists.
Through the years, the NC Legislature has taken a number of military-friendly actions in an effort to support those service members, provide for their families, and welcome them into our workforce.
Education Focused Legislation
“Now if you want to compete in the Armed Forces, you have to have a high school diploma as a minimum; and to be able to function with a lot of the available technology, you can benefit from additional education. If you decide that you want to try to earn a Commission as a uniformed Officer in one of the five services, then you definitely need a four-year degree.”
Education may not have been a top priority in the earliest days of the US military, but today it is. Any state that hopes to support service members and their families will also support education for them.
NC continues to do just that. In 2019, the legislature enacted Excused Absences for Military Children, a law directing the NC State Board of Education to “adopt rules providing for excused absences from school for children of members of the Armed Forces of the United States.”
In 2020, state leaders passed legislation allowing the University of North Carolina System Office, the North Carolina Community College System, and the Military Credit Advisory Council to collaborate on the creation of a searchable database that would make it easier for military-affiliated students to have their credits from various institutions evaluated for increased clarity in their equivalencies. A database of this nature provides easier transfer of credits from one institution to another.
Bringing the focus back to local schools in 2021, the legislature authorized children of active-duty service members to attend school locally, based on where their parents’ military orders direct them to live.
Employment Focused Legislation
Education is not the only topic on the minds of state leaders who want to do everything they can to support service members in the state. Employment is also a top priority.
For starters, in 2019, the NC Legislature showed support for military members who are called to active duty by enacting legislation that extends provisions of a federal law into the state.
The NC Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) — the local version of the federal SCRA — prevents military members from the need to use their personal vacation or other leave for time served. The NCSCRA also includes provision for termination of leases without penalty under several circumstances, such as being called to active duty or being reassigned from one location to another while on active duty.
Also in 2019:
- Legislation that straddles the fence between education and employment provided children of wartime veterans the opportunity to use scholarship funds for workforce training that leads to industry credentials.
- In an effort to make licensing for military-affiliated teachers more accessible, NC state leaders granted military spouses who are teachers and hold a license in a different district the opportunity to be granted a limited three-year license by the State Board of Education. This provision allows them to teach in the local district where their military spouse is stationed.
Other licensing the NC Legislature has expedited is occupational licensing, paving the way for military members and their spouses to obtain licensure more quickly, in spite of their constant changes in residency — even between states.
Additionally, NC Legislature passed a rule modifying the requirements of comity licensure for military spouse attorneys who can prove that they reside in the state due to their spouses military orders. These modifications include:
- eliminating the bar exam requirement for military spouses who are licensed, active and in good standing in any U.S. jurisdiction and meet all additional requirements;
- expanding the required time in practice from four out of six years to four out of eight years;
- giving military spouse applications priority;
- reducing the application fee;
- allowing applicants to practice under supervision while waiting for approval
Mental Health and Reintegration
As early as 2008, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that revealed a connection between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Mild traumatic brain injury (i.e., concussion) occurring among soldiers deployed in Iraq is strongly associated with PTSD and physical health problems three to four months after the soldiers return home.”
For veterans struggling with the effects of brain injuries and subsequent PTSD, NC’s attention to their plight is worth paying attention to. The North Carolina Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Treatment and Recovery Act of 2019 addressed the treatment of TBI and PTSD with hyperbaric oxygen therapy — a therapy that provides pure oxygen to patients in an effort to fight the inflammation that results from injuries to the brain.
In Durham, NC, veterans are taking advantage of the opportunity, and some are finding relief from a lifelong struggle.
How the Military Strengthens Our Workforce
North Carolina continues to support military families through strong legislation that provides for their unique needs. And for good reason. We need what service members bring to our workforce, and state leaders recognize that.
“Our military veterans have conferred a great gift to all Americans through their service. Importantly, thanks to the rigorous and excellent training that our service members receive while on active duty, our veterans are well positioned to offer America’s employers a great gift as well. Our nation’s employers have, in essence, been handed a workforce of men and women who are highly trained and, in some cases, uniquely skilled.”
The Institute for Veterans and Military Families goes on to explain that life in the US military is filled with pressure, and there’s no better candidate for the modern workforce than someone who’s learned to thrive in that pressure.
In fact, it’s someone with that skill who offers employers a jump on the competition.
“Academic research from the fields of business, psychology, sociology, and decision-making strongly links characteristics that are generally representative of military veterans to enhanced performance and organizational advantage in the context of a competitive and dynamic business environment,” states the IVMF. “In other words, the academic research supports a robust, specific, and compelling business case for hiring individuals with military background and experience.”
The unique skills veterans bring to the table include:
- Entrepreneurial savvy.
- The ability to trust.
- A unique level of comfort in changing environments.
- The ability to be highly resilient.
- The capability to leverage their:
- Advanced technical training.
- Cross-cultural experiences.
- Advanced team-building skills.
- Experience in diverse work settings.
- Strong organizational commitment.
This is a compelling argument for state leaders and the business community to continue supporting NC military families through legislation and workforce opportunities.
To learn more about how you can support veterans in North Carolina, visit Defense Alliance of North Carolina.