Gov. Phil Bryant proclaimed on Wednesday that 2013 was the year Mississippi employers should do everything they can to hire veterans.
As part of the announcement at the Capitol, Bryant and officials from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security said they would back legislation that seeks to make it easier for veterans and their spouses to get jobs.
The bill, which will be filed by Rep. Wanda Jennings, R-Southaven, would require state agencies to grant temporary occupational licenses to qualified veterans and their spouses. For example, if someone is transferred to Naval Air Station Meridian, and their spouse is a nurse licensed in another state, the bill would expedite the process of getting a license to practice nursing in Mississippi.
It would also expedite the licensing process for veterans whose civilian career will mirror their jobs in the military.
The initiative will include three job fairs, the first of which is in March at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson.
MDES executive director Mark Henry said Mississippi will have in the next five years 28,000 veterans who have served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. The unemployment rate for veterans in the state, Henry said, is 10.8 percent, higher than the 7.8 percent overall rate.
On Wednesday, representatives from Ingalls Shipbuilding, Entergy Mississippi and Brown Bottling signed a pledge to hire Mississippi veterans. A similar movement is going on nationally, led by Walmart’s promise this week to hire 100,000 veterans in the next five years.
The job fairs associated with the Mississippi initiative are March 8 at the Ag Museum, April 9 at the Biloxi Civic Center and June 27 at Itawamba Community College’s Belden Center in Belden.
Video of Wednesday’s press conference, courtesy of the MBJ‘s Stephen McDill, is here.