Call to Order and Roll Call
The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, June 14, 2012, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Tanya Pullin, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Jack Westwood, Co-Chair; Representative Tanya Pullin, Co-Chair; Senators Joe Bowen, Vernie McGaha, Dennis Parrett, Kathy W. Stein, and Mike Wilson; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Linda Belcher, Regina Petrey Bunch, Dwight D. Butler, Mike Cherry, Tim Couch, Ron Crimm, Myron Dossett, Bill Farmer, David Floyd, Martha Jane King, Donna Mayfield, Terry Mills, Tim Moore, Rick G. Nelson, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, and John Tilley.
Guests: Larry Roberts, Executive Director, Kentucky State Building and Trades Council; Matt Jones, Bruce Dantley, United Association, Veterans in Piping Training Program; Gene Kiser, Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security; and Steven Bullard, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs.
Representative Crimm read a resolution in memory and honor of Corporal Aaron M. Faust. Representative Pullin moved to adopt the resolution, Representative Mills seconded the motion, and the motion was adopted.
Representative Mayfield read a resolution in memory and honor of Private First Class Dustin D. Gross. Representative Pullin moved to adopt the resolution. Senator Parrott seconded the motion, and the motion was adopted.
Veterans in Piping Training Program
Bruce Dantley, with the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Sprinkler-fitters (UA), gave a brief overview of the Veterans in Piping Program (VIP). Mr. Dantley stated that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, ages 22-24, have an unemployment rate of more than three times that of non-veterans in the same age group. He explained why returning veterans are struggling to find work. One in five have experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), many employers refuse to hire veterans because they assume the veteran will have PTSD and it will affect their performance on the job, and many veterans experience difficulties when re-entering the civilian world because it is less structured than military life.
Mr. Dantley stated that one solution to the problem is the UA, which has 390,000 members, 212 training facilities, and has partnered with the U.S. military to create the UA Veterans In Piping (VIP) Program. The program provides returning veterans with two weeks of transitional training to civilian life and then sixteen weeks of accelerated welding training. The training is free to veterans who, upon completion, are placed in construction careers nationwide, helping to replenish an aging workforce while rebuilding America’s infrastructure. Welders are in high demand nationwide, making job opportunities plentiful for welders who are well-trained and highly-skilled after their intensive training program. Mr. Dantley added that the UA and the U.S. military can provide a positive re-entry into civilian life and long-term, lucrative careers for those who have served their country with bravery and honor.
Matt Jones, a recent graduate of the VIP Program, briefly described his experience applying for and participating in the program, as well as his placement in a welding career.
In response to a question from Chair Pullin, Mr. Dantley stated that one of the Kentucky representatives for the VIP Program is Jamie Rucker. Larry Roberts, Executive Director of the Kentucky State Buildings and Trades Council, stated that he would get specific statistics of veterans and welding positions for Kentucky and send them to the committee.
In response to a question from Representative Floyd, Mr. Dantley stated that no other business has stepped up to the plate to help veterans with training and employment like the UA VIP has and paying the full price for the veterans’ training. The UA VIP did a survey and found that they were in need of 1,000 welders in the immediate future.
In response to a question from Representative Belcher, Mr. Dantley stated that 239 veterans have graduated the training program since it started in 2009.
Kentucky Office of Homeland Security Update
Gene Kiser, Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security (KOHS), gave an update on the KOHS Program Areas. Mr. Kiser stated that the Kentucky Intelligence Fusion Center (KIFC) disseminates intelligence information and is an all crimes resource for the local, state, and federal entity. The State Fire Marshal and Public Health are the newest members located in the KIFC. KOHS also provides statewide intelligence classes for law enforcement and fire services via the KIFC.
Mr. Kiser stated that the Interoperable Communications/Command trailers continue to support local responders. There are four communications trailers strategically placed across Kentucky. Those communications trailers were used during the floods in the Spring of 2011 where they acted as the EOC in Livingston County when the county was evacuated. The trailers were also used when the bridge collapsed in Cadiz, and all four trailers operated at one location for the first time after the West Liberty tornado.
Mr. Kiser discussed the grant program and the various authorized equipment used by first responders that are eligible for grant funds. Mr. Kiser added that funding received for local grants in fiscal year 2004 was $27,616,000 and is down to $2,241,052 in fiscal year 2012. Mr. Kiser stated that the total funds obligated for the Law Enforcement Protection Program, since July 1, 2011, has been $684,098. This funding paid for body armor, three canine vests, patrol rifles, shotguns and ammunition, duty weapons and ammunition, and tasers and cartridges.
Mr. Kiser listed the upcoming activities of the KOHS, including revising the State Preparedness Report/State Strategic Plan leading an exercise at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds, and doing a full scale exercise for nuclear detection at Louisville Metro government. KOHS will also be announcing FY-12 grants, and will have an executive reorganization order for the KIFC.
In response to a question from Representative Floyd, Mr. Kiser stated that KOHS does not provide first responders, they provide training for them. Emergency management, among others, provides the first responders.
In response to a question from Senator Wilson, Mr. Kiser stated that KOHS provides grant management oversight every year, however; this is the first year that the NIMS Program will be managed in house.
Chair Pullin called on Representative Tim Moore to give a brief report on the May NCSL Military and Veterans’ Affairs Task Force Meeting. A copy of the highlights and key issues of the meeting are a part of this official record, which is located in the Legislative Research Commission Library.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.