Monday, June 21, 2010

GUEST COLUMN: "Governor’s Careless Leadership Hurts War Heroes" by St. Rep. John Adams

By State Rep. John Adams

Serving in the United States Armed Forces is one of the noblest sacrifices a person can make for our country, and those who have fought for our nation deserve our upmost respect and gratitude. When these individuals return from overseas, many face hurdles that will haunt them for the rest of their lives, including physical disabilities or emotional scars. As they attempt to assimilate back into everyday life, it is the duty of Ohio’s leaders to give them as many opportunities as possible to succeed.

However, on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, Governor Strickland allowed crucial funding for a veterans’ assistance program to slip through his fingers, despite months of warnings from the U.S. Department of Labor that these dollars were at risk of being cut. Due to this negligent oversight, the state lost nearly $530,000 in federal funding for the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program, which helps disabled veterans re-enter the workforce by pairing them with career counselors and offering job-placement services.

The loss of these Disabled Veterans Outreach Program funds is a blatant slap in the face to our vets and only occurred because the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services failed to meet federal requirements to hire and retain vocational counselors. For the chief executive of the State of Ohio to allow this sort of indifference to occur within one of his agencies is shocking. It’s clear that Strickland’s priorities not only fail to align with job creation and retention, but also do not include veterans’ services or protecting some of our most vulnerable Ohioans.

His incompetence will be devastating to nearly 1 million veterans who currently live in Ohio. Approximately 75,000 veterans utilize the program’s services each year, and more than half of these veterans were able to find employment as a result of the program. The Buckeye state has the sixth-largest veteran population in the entire nation, but the governor has carelessly neglected another opportunity to create jobs while at the same time putting our local veterans at risk.

As a Navy veteran, I am offended that Governor Strickland has shown a lack of commitment to our men and women in uniform. His ineptitude is typical of his administration, yet uncharacteristic of leaders who actually care for the citizens who elected them. I will continue to fight to protect those brave Ohioans who answered the call to duty and now need our care and assistance.