Lawmakers working to make SC more military-friendly - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Lawmakers working to make SC more military-friendly

The military employs close to 140 thousand people in South Carolina, and generates billions of dollars in revenue.  But in the face of budget cuts, lawmakers are working to make the state even more 'military-friendly'.

Before the next round of base closures are considered in 2015, the Department of Defense is suggesting states consider adopting ten pieces of legislation, that deal with improving the quality of life for military families and veterans.

"I went like ten years without even admitting I was a veteran," said Curtis Woodall.

But shame has long since turned to pride for Vietnam Veteran Curtis Woodall. Since moving to South Carolina ten years ago, he says he's felt appreciated as a veteran, but still, things could be better.

"Active service members really have it rough," Woodall added. "They don't know where they're going next. It's tough on them and their families."

With possible base closures coming, lawmakers are working to pass legislation to make life easier for military service members and their families.

"What we can do as a nation is go ahead and pass legislation to recognize what a unique position military families are in," said Senator Tom Davis. "The sacrifices they face in terms of being deployed from one place to another at a moment's notice.'

To make things easier, the Department of Defense suggests states like South Carolina pass laws to streamline the moving, Medicaid, and childcare issues that are part of military life.

Some bills are simply recognition that military families have to interact with state government, whether its licensing, Medicaid or getting their child's progress in school tracked property.

One bill targets veterans in the court system, giving them a chance to get treatment instead of serving time.

"Any of them that have had dealings with combat is going to have some issues they're going to have to deal with, even when they don't know it," said Woodall.

So far, only three of the ten suggested pieces of legislation have passed in South Carolina, and three more are moving through the legislature right now. Lawmakers are confident they will be able to pass all ten before the base cuts are considered in 2015.

"We have great instillations, great geography to compliment those installations and then we have a lot of retirees that advocate for those institutions that are civic leaders," said Davis.

Many veterans like Woodall say it's the least we can do to honor those who serve our country.

"My God they're helping us," said Woodall. "Help them."

Three of the ten bills that have passed in South Carolina deal with improving absentee voting, helping spouses transfer their professional licenses and increasing consumer protections against predatory lending regulations.

 

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