Speaking of bipartisanship, a cooperative effort spearheaded by a pair of Oakland County commissioners is expected to help veterans better transition into civilian life by helping them find work after their military service. It’s appropriate that county officials decided to go down that path just before Veterans Day, an observance and recognition of the many sacrifices — up to and including the ultimate sacrifice — made by the men and women who served in the military. If there’s any group that deserves some extra public assistance and attention, it’s our veterans. But keep in mind there will be a cost to the county in extending additional support to veterans. As such, we’re challenging county officials to find the money needed to implement the program, even if it means cutting back in one or more areas of the county’s current and future budgets.
The Veterans Internship Program, proposed by county Commissioners Jim Runestad (R-White Lake, Waterford) and David Woodward (D-Royal Oak), received the Board of Commissioners’ unanimous blessing on Thursday, Nov. 1.
Among the program’s goals are helping with the transition into the civilian workforce; building veterans’ skills and confidence; providing opportunities to develop on-the-job experience and training for a variety of careers in county government and the civilian workforce; supporting county departments and agencies in developing an understanding of the skills and abilities returning veterans offer to the county government workforce; and honoring veterans’ service.
The county administration must now work with the county board to develop an implementation plan and provide information on projected program costs within 45 days.
There are more than 100,000 veterans and their families living in Oakland County, according to the Oakland County Veterans’ Services Department. They — and their families — are well worthy of a helping hand. In many cases (all cases in this day and age), the men and women who served were volunteers, people who willingly risked everything — life and limb — by joining the military. And don’t think for a moment that veterans’ family members didn’t also make many difficult sacrifices.
So it’s fitting that all current county commissioners jumped onboard and backed the notion of a Veterans Internship Program. But frankly, that’s not enough. Some of those commissioners will be returning for new terms after the new year. It will be their job, along with administration leaders, to find the money needed to provide the envisioned services to those who have served us all.
Yes, military personnel get paid for their service (albeit minimally), learn special skills, and receive benefits through the federal government; but, they have earned so much more. They certainly merit more than a feel-good resolution. Therefore, once the program plan is flushed out and the costs are known, it’s up to county officials to find the funds to make it happen — no cheap excuses. Get it done.