Next Level Veterans initiative aims to employ more military personnel

INDIANAPOLIS - The newest Next Level initiative launched Friday. Next Level Veterans is a statewide program to recruit, employ and connect discharging military personnel to Indiana and retain veterans who already live in the state.

Like other Next Level initiatives, the newest one includes a website, www.in.gov/veterans, which provides a one-stop-shop for veterans across the country who want to find work, training or housing information regarding Indiana.

"Our veterans have given us so much," said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.

The governor said there are currently more than 85,000 unfilled jobs in Indiana. Exiting members of the military have the necessary skills to fill the roles.

"Bringing veterans from around the country her to fill high-wage, high-demand jobs is a win-win-win for military service men and women, employers and our state's economy," Holcomb said. "Next Level Veterans will encourage partnerships around the state to bring our nation's skilled and talented veterans back to our welcoming and vibrant Indiana communities."

Part of the initiative includes recruiting at military camps across the country.

Thanks to loans through the Veterans Affairs office, service men and women who move to Indiana could receive financial assistance with a down payment on an Indiana home or money for relocating to the state. Both would also run through the veteran's new employer in the state.

“We don’t just have the jobs already available," the governor said. "What we need is their expertise and that’s why we are fanning out across the country and making sure they know Indiana’s story.”

In attendance for Friday's announcement were leaders from Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF) and EmployIndy. Both support the state's effort to employ veterans.

"For our employers, they are really suffering right now from finding high-skilled talent," said Angela Carrklitzsch, the president and CEO of EmployIndy. "Veterans have those skills that they need."

HVAF works with veterans experiencing homelessness, or on the verge of becoming homeless. Workers there work with hundreds of clients, and many times the reason the veteran is dealing with homelessness is due to employment.

"[The governor] is bringing both pieces together," said Emmy Hildebrand, the vice president of strategic initiatives and public policy.