Phoenix, Arizona - Each Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the men and women who risk their lives to protect our country in defense of American values.

Standing in a moment of silence, sharing stories about our heroes in uniform, and praying for their safe return mean everything. But we owe them a debt that can never be repaid, so it’s also important that we honor these men and women with our actions—not only supporting them overseas but when they come back home, too.

That means giving members of the military the tools they need to find career opportunities, helping them pursue an education, and making their lives easier as they start anew as civilians.

Over the past two years, we have:

  • Invested in programs that connect veterans to eager employers
  • Offered certifications to universities that offer unique services
  • Made it easier to gain academic credit for military service
  • Provided tax relief to military families who survive their loved ones
  • Streamlined government to improve customer service for veterans

Arizona’s population knows what it means to serve. We’re home to more than half of a million veterans, and we’re proudly represented by a number of courageous veterans in Washington, D.C., like Senator John McCain, an American hero who served in the Vietnam War, and Congresswoman Martha McSally, the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat in United States history.

We’ll keep doing everything we can to make Arizona the best state in the nation for veterans to live, work, and recreate, easing the transition from military to civilian life in honor of the sacrifices they have made (and continue to make) for our nation.

Getting Veterans Back On Their Feet With New Career Opportunities

“One of the most important things we can offer a veteran when he or she takes off the uniform is a job.” – Governor Ducey

The Annual Average Unemployment Rate For Veterans In Arizona Was 3.7 Percent In 2015—Only One Year Earlier, It Was 5.7 Percent. (“Employment Situation Of Veterans—2015,” United States Department Of Labor, 03/22/16; “Employment Situation Of Veterans—2014,” United States Department Of Labor, 03/18/15)

In March 2015, We Officially Launched The “Arizona Roadmap To Veteran Employment” In Order To Connect Veterans To Career Opportunities. “The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services and the Arizona Coalition for Military Families hosted a summit to officially launch the Arizona Roadmap to Veteran Employment.” (“Event Recap: Arizona Roadmap To Veteran Employment Summit,” Arizona Coalition For Military Families, 03/27/15)

The Statewide Program, Funded In Part By The Governor’s Office Of Youth, Faith, And Family, “Connects Service Members, Veterans And Their Families To Employment, Training And Resources.” (Laurie Merrill, “Arizona Programs Help Vets Find Jobs,” Arizona Republic, 05/22/16)

In Its First Year, From June 2015 To May 2016, The Program Saw A Number Of Great Achievements:

  • 341 direct contacts with job seekers
  • 2,100+ people reached through outreach efforts
  • 2,400+ people trained in veteran service programs outside of the navigator network
  • 42 Arizona Veteran Supportive Employers, a new designation for companies that offer specific services to veterans

In June 2016, The Successful Program Was Renewed With A Second Annual Summit. “The second Arizona Roadmap to Veteran Employment Summit will take place at the Arizona PBS studio on June 17, 2016. This event is part of a statewide initiative to connect service members, veterans and their family members to employment opportunities, training and resources.” (“Arizona PBS To Host 2nd Arizona Roadmap To Veteran Employment Summit,” Arizona PBS, 06/17/16)

Veteran Supportive Employers In Arizona Include Salt River Project, Arizona Public Service, DHL Express, And Many Others—Plus Several State Agencies Under Governor Ducey. (“Roadmap AVSEs,” Arizona Coalition For Military Families, Accessed 11/11/16)

In April 2015, Arizona Passed Legislation Allowing Private Employers To Give Employment Preference To Veterans, Which Makes It Easier For Members Of The Military To Find Jobs. (“House Bill 2094,” Arizona State Legislature, Signed 04/06/15)

In November 2015, Governor Ducey Proclaimed A New “Veteran Employment Month” In Honor Of “Our Military Veterans . . . And The Businesses In Arizona Who Hire Them.” (“Governor Doug Ducey Declares November Veteran Employment Month,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 11/04/15)

KTVK: “Governor Ducey Pushes Arizona Businesses To Hire Military Veterans.” (“Governor Ducey Pushes Arizona Businesses To Hire Military Veterans,” KTVK, 11/04/15)

GOVERNOR DUCEY: “One Of The Most Important Things We Can Offer A Veteran When He Or She Takes Off The Uniform Is A Job.” GOVERNOR DUCEY: “In addition to our gratitude and support, one of the most important things we can offer a veteran when he or she takes off the uniform is a job, an opportunity to benefit in the civilian workforce. Hiring a veteran is a win-win situation. They bring valuable skills, knowledge, experience, discipline, and leadership to the employers who hire them.” (“Governor Ducey’s November 2015 Message On Veteran Employment,” YouTube, 11/02/15)

In May 2016, Arizona Passed Legislation Making It Easier For Those Currently Serving In The Arizona National Guard To Be Appointed As Peace Officers. Senate Bill 1212 expanded eligibility for appointment to Peace Officer status to veterans “who have served as a law enforcement officer in any branch of the United States Armed Forces or as a special agent of a military criminal investigative organization within the United States Department of Defense.” (Senate Bill 1212, Arizona State Legislature, Signed 05/11/16)

The Chairman Of Arizona’s Veterans Advisory Commission Said That He Hopes The Legislation “Will Be Used As A Model For The State Licensure For Military Veterans Coming Out Of The Service With Training And Experience In Law Enforcement.” “Chairman Rustand hopes that SB1212 – National Guard; Peace Officers’ appointment will be used as a model for the state licensure for military veterans coming out of the service with training and experience in law enforcement.” (“Meeting Minutes Of The Advisory Commission,” Arizona Department Of Veterans’ Services, 05/12/16)

Helping Veterans Enhance Their Lives Through Education

About 16,000 Veterans Currently Attend Post-Secondary Classes In Arizona. (Arizona Department Of Veterans’ Services Education Division, Accessed 11/11/16)

All Of Arizona’s Four-Year Universities Are Officially Certified As “Veteran Supportive Campuses.” The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services has certified several other educational institutions as “veteran supportive campuses,” including Mesa Community College, Phoenix College, Rio Salado College, and others. (“Veterans Supportive Campus,” Arizona Department Of Veterans’ Services, Accessed 11/11/16)

“Veteran Supportive Campuses” Have To Offer Several Services To Student Veterans In Order To Be Certified. The Arizona Revised Statutes state that “veteran supportive campus” means offering “a campus survey of student veterans to identify the needs, issues and suggestions of veterans . . . peer mentoring and peer support programs for student veterans . . . outreach strategies to local military bases” and more. (Arizona Revised Statutes, Accessed 11/11/16)

All Of Our Four-Year Universities Are Also Included In The Newest Military Times Rankings Of The Best Colleges For Veterans Released One Week Ago. (“Best For Vets: Colleges 2017,” Military Times, 11/01/16)

Arizona State University Established An Interdisciplinary Center To Study Veterans’ Wellness In 2015 And This Year Hosted Orientation Meetings For New Student Veterans. (“New ASU Center To Study Veterans’ Wellness,” ASU Now, 02/27/15; “Pat Tillman Veterans Center Hosts Orientation For Students With Service Experience,” ASU Now, 08/05/16)

University Of Arizona Offers Free Tutoring To Student Veterans By Student Veterans And This Year Hosted A Summer Program To Help Veterans Transition Into College Life. (“Veterans Education & Transition Services – Educational Components,” University Of Arizona, Accessed 11/11/16; Amanda Martinez, “UA To Host Summer Program For Student Veterans,” Arizona Public Media, 01/21/16)

Northern Arizona University Specifically Recruits Veterans Through The W. A. Franke College of Business Veteran Student Center While Its Veteran Success Center Is Helping Veterans To Transition Into College Life. (“The W. A. Franke College of Business Veteran Student Center,” Northern Arizona University, Accessed 11/11/16; Corina Vanek, “NAU Student Veterans Work To Ease Transition From Military To College,” Arizona Daily Sun, 11/11/15)

In March 2015, Governor Ducey Issued An Executive Order Renewing The State Council On The Education For Military Children To Help Meet Unique Education Needs Of Children In Military Families. (“Executive Order 2015-03,” Governor’s Office Of Education, 03/12/15)

GOVERNOR DUCEY: “We Need To Ensure That Children Of Military Families Experience The Best Arizona’s Education System Has To Offer.” GOVERNOR DUCEY: “Military families give so much to our country and our state, and we need to ensure that children of military families experience the best Arizona’s education system has to offer.” (“Governor Doug Ducey Appoints Council To Help Meet Unique Education Needs Of Children in Military Families,” Governor’s Office Of Education, 04/05/16)

In May 2016, Arizona Passed Legislation Making It Easier For Veterans To Gain Academic Credits For Their Service In The Military. Senate Bill 1267 “requires community college district governing boards and the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) to create policies to award academic credit to current or former members of the United States Military.” (Senate Bill 1267, Arizona State Legislature, Signed 05/17/16; House Summary Of Senate Bill 1267 Arizona State Legislature, Accessed 11/11/16)

In May 2016, Arizona Passed Legislation Establishing The Post-9/11 Veteran Education Relief Fund, Which Awards Financial Assistance To Help Qualified Military Veterans Pay For Tuition. (House Bill 2033, Arizona State Legislature, Signed 05/17/16)

The Legislation Also Establishes An Advisory Committee To Oversee The Distribution Of These Monies. (House Bill 2033, Arizona State Legislature, Signed 05/17/16)

In November 2016, Governor Ducey Proclaimed It “Arizona Student Veteran Month” In Honor Of The 16,000 Veterans Who Are Attending Post-Secondary Courses In Arizona. (“Proclamation: Arizona Student Veteran Month,” Governor’s Office Of Education, Proclaimed September 2016)

Making Life Easier For Veterans When They’re Home

This Week, Three Arizona Cities Were Ranked In The Top 15 Cities In The United States For Veterans To Live. (“2016’s Best & Worst Places For Veterans To Live,” WalletHub, 11/07/16)

Our State Is Leading The Nation With “Veterans Courts,” Which Specifically Cater To Veterans Who Have Made Mistakes And Whom “Court Officials And Prosecutors Believe . . . Deserve A Second Chance.” “They're here because they served in America's military forces, and court officials and prosecutors believe they deserve a second chance. With more military men and women returning from the battlefield with physical and mental wounds, courts that cater only to veterans—focusing on rehabilitation rather than punishment—are operating across the country, and Arizona is on the vanguard of the trend.” (Jim Walsh, “Veterans Courts Trending In Arizona,” Arizona Republic, 03/17/15)

There Are Now 13 Of These Courts In Arizona Helping Veterans Get The Treatment And Understanding They Deserve. (Allie Bice, “One Less Battle: Treatment Courts Keep Vets Out Of Jail, In Recovery,” Cronkite News, 09/24/16)

The Arizona Republic Reported That Phoenix Is “Considered By Some To Have The Largest Veterans Court In The Country.” (Jim Walsh, “Veterans Courts Trending In Arizona,” Arizona Republic, 03/17/15)

Veteran And Peer Support Specialist: “Anyone That Served Their Country, They’ve Got The Potential To Become A Good Person.” RAY PEREZ: “I think anyone that served their country, they’ve got the potential to become a good person, be a good person. Some of us, unfortunately, we make wrong choices in our life and we go down some dark roads and some of us do get lost and don’t find our war back home.” (“Arizona Horizon – Veterans Court,” Arizona PBS, 10/18/16)

In April 2016, Arizona Passed Legislation Allowing Members Of Various State Retirement Plans With At Least Five Years Of Service (Rather Than Ten Years As Previously Required) To Receive Credited Service For Any Military Service Performed Before Their Employment. (House Bill 2019, Arizona State Legislature, Signed 04/05/16)

In May 2016, Arizona Passed Legislation To Provide Well-Deserved Tax Relief To Surviving Spouses And Surviving Dependents Of Deceased Members Of The U.S. Military. (House Bill 2153, Arizona State Legislature, Signed 05/12/16)

GOVERNOR DUCEY: “We Owe Our Patriots In Uniform, And Their Families, A Debt That Can Never Be Repaid, So This Bill Is Only A Small Token Of Our Appreciation.” GOVERNOR DUCEY: “We must continually honor the brave women and men who’ve served and sacrificed in defense of our nation’s freedom—not only with our words, but with action. We owe our patriots in uniform, and their families, a debt that can never be repaid, so this bill is only a small token of our appreciation. Supporting our military members, veterans and their families will remain a top priority.” (“Governor Doug Ducey Signs Bills To Eliminate Vehicle License Tax For Families Of Fallen Service Members,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 05/12/16)

In May 2016, Arizona Passed Legislation Appropriating $2 Million To Provide Tax Relief To Native American Veterans Whom Were Incorrectly Taxed From 1993 To 2006. (House Bill 2708, Arizona State Legislature, Signed 05/10/16)

In May 2016, Arizona Invested $10 Million In The Creation Of A New Veterans’ Home In Flagstaff. (Senate Bill 1527, Arizona State Legislature, Signed 05/10/16)

City Leaders Stepped Up To The Plate, Flagstaff Donating Eight Acres Of Land To Help Build The Veterans’ Home. (“City Council Regular Meeting Minutes,” Flagstaff City Council, 05/19/15; Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa, “Rio De Flag Gets Funding And Veterans Home Moves Forward,” Arizona Daily Sun, 02/19/16)

The Veterans’ Home Has Been Described As “The First Long-Term Care Veterans Facility In Arizona North Of Phoenix.” “Tuesday night, Flagstaff City Council directed staff to look into what it would take to deed seven or eight acres of the city’s cinder and sand storage yard on McMillian Mesa to the Arizona Department of Veterans Services for a 60-bed facility for veterans. If the home is approved by the state and federal government it would be the first long-term care veterans facility in Arizona north of Phoenix, according to city staff.” (Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa, “Flagstaff Takes First Step Toward Veterans Home,” Arizona Daily Sun, 01/08/15)

We Always Make Sure That Veterans Can Enjoy Everything Our State Has To Offer:

This Year On Veterans Day, Arizona Is Offering Veterans And Active Duty Military Free Entrance To Our Beautiful State Parks. Throughout the year the agency also offers a 50 percent discount on day-use passes for veterans and active duty military as well as free entrance for 100% service disabled veterans. (“Arizona State Parks Offer Free Entry To Veterans And Active Military On Veterans Day,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 11/10/16; “Fee Schedule,” Arizona State Parks, Accessed 11/11/16)

The Arizona Department Of Game And Fish Streamlined Government And Made It Easier For Veterans To Recreate. “The Arizona Department of Game and Fish reduced the time it takes for disable veterans to get hunting and fishing combination license permits from 38 days to 7 days.” (“Improving Customer Service,” Office Of The Arizona Governor, 10/07/16)

Arizona Passed Legislation Allowing The Spouse Of A Member Of The Military Stationed In Our State To Purchase A Game And Fish License. (House Bill 2324, Arizona State Legislature, 05/11/16)