Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Governor Cooper Hosts Veterans Roundtable on Supporting Veterans’ Transition to Civilian Life Roundtable discussion included conversation about next steps for victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination

Raleigh, N.C.
Feb 13, 2024

Today, Governor Roy Cooper hosted a veterans roundtable discussion focused on supporting North Carolina’s veterans during the transition to civilian life and beyond. The Governor was joined at the NCWorks Career Center in Jacksonville by North Carolina Chief Deputy Secretary of Commerce Jordan Whichard and North Carolina Department of Military & Veterans Affairs Director of Transition Services Andrea Allard along with several veterans for the discussion.

“Our veterans sacrificed so much to protect our country, and we owe them a deep debt of gratitude,” said Governor Cooper. “North Carolina is the most military friendly state in the nation, and we want to continue supporting veterans as they transition to civilian life so that they and their families will continue calling North Carolina home.”

“Our NCWorks Career Centers, in Jacksonville and across the state, are proud to serve Veterans, transitioning service-members and their families,” said N.C. Commerce Chief Deputy Secretary Jordan Whichard. “We understand the challenges that some Veterans face in making a transition to the civilian workforce, but we also know that they bring valuable skills, talents and experience to any business that hires them. It’s our mission – and our privilege – to connect Veterans with great employers and opportunities, including those in North Carolina’s growing industries like clean energy and advanced manufacturing.”

At the roundtable was Jerry Ensminger, a Marine Corps veteran and who fought for decades to get answers, closure and justice for those impacted by the past water contamination at Camp Lejeune. In January, the CDC released a new study stating that those stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1975-1985 had at least a 20% higher risk for multiple types of cancer including leukemia and lymphoma.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to join this discussion with Governor Cooper and two fellow veterans today to highlight the need for justice for those affected by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune,” said Ensminger. “We must continue working to right this wrong and give the veterans and families who were impacted the support and compensation they deserve.”

Also involved in the discussion were veterans Elisha Trujillo and Craig Verbois. Trujillo served in the Navy for four years and found employment at Jones Companies in Jacksonville through the NCWorks program. Verbois is a former Marine and successful leader in his workplace and community. Thanks to a nomination from NCWorks, Verbois received a vehicle to assist in his commute to work from the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides Program.

The Governor also visited the Montford Point Marines Memorial in Jacksonville. The Montford Point Marines were the first African American Marines, trained at Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville from August 1942-September 1949.

The N.C. Department of Commerce works in close partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor and employs 52 NCWorks Veterans Services professionals (all of whom are veterans themselves). These professionals, located at NCWorks Career Centers across the state, help connect veterans to employers, as well as to training opportunities. The department also partners with North Carolina For Military Employment (NC4ME) on special hiring events. In the 2022-2023 year, North Carolina’s workforce system supported more than 5,700 veterans who received some type of job-seeker service through their local NCWorks Career Center.

North Carolina is the most military and veteran friendly state in the nation, with a large active military population and almost 800,000 veterans who call our state home. Governor Cooper’s administration has taken action to make sure the veterans in our state can access the services they need and live the full and healthy lives they deserve. And now that life-saving Medicaid Expansion has launched in North Carolina, approximately 14,000 additional North Carolina veterans could qualify for critical health care.

DMVA has 12 Veteran Services Offices across the state specializing in ensuring our veterans are made aware of and maximize all the benefits and resources available to them. In 2023, those offices helped North Carolina veterans claim over $45 million in compensation.

Started in 2018, the HIRE Vets Medallion Program is the only federal-level veterans’ employment award that recognizes an organization’s commitment to veteran hiring, retention, and professional development. In 2022, 27 North Carolina companies received a HIRE Vets Medallion Award, and in 2023, that number increased to 31 North Carolina companies.

NCDMVA, NCDHHS, NCDOT, and the Department of Commerce are working tirelessly to create opportunities for servicemembers and veterans with employment, education and certification assistance and other ways to help approximately 20,000 military service members transition from active duty to veteran status each year.

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