OLYMPIA — A bill introduced by Sen. Jan Angel, R- Port Orchard, to build a peer-to-peer network for veterans support services and to realign government hiring for veterans, was signed into law May 4 by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Angel’s bill, Senate Bill 5849, will create a support network based on the framework of a similar Texas program that networks veterans to services. According to the senator’s office, the Washington Department of Veteran Affairs will now begin developing a network connecting veterans with counseling, mental health and other health services.
The measure also directs the Office of Financial Management to create a veterans recruitment and hiring plan “that recognizes and values the experience vets offer,” Angel said in a news release. She noted that the bill’s goal is to align public employment and recruitment policies with the skill sets of veterans.
“We want to keep veterans in our communities providing the skills, leadership and character they developed in service,” she noted. “They certainly deserve the very best quality of life we can assist with.”
Angel’s bill will benefit veterans in the 26th legislative district, which is heavily populated by military personnel from Naval Base Kitsap – Bremerton, the Retsil Veterans Home, as well as some service members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The state also is highly dependent on the military. It is home to 598,000 veterans, 60,000 active duty, 19,000 guard and reserves, and 2 million family members, Angel’s office reported.