North Carolina will create a department of military and veterans affairs to improve services for active-duty personnel and veterans, as well as to promote the state’s military bases, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said during his State of the State address earlier this month.
“At a time when so many servicemen and women are coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq through North Carolina, as I mentioned before, we must have an efficient and well-coordinated process in place to meet the needs of active-duty personnel and veterans,” McCrory said Feb. 4. “These services are right now scattered across many areas of state government with no accountability, causing delay, frustration, and sometimes poor customer service.”
The primary functions of the department will include:
- promoting the health and safety of veterans and military families;
- helping veterans gain employment; and
- protecting and promoting the state’s military installations;
- supporting defense communities.
North Carolina has five major military installations: Fort Bragg/Pope Field, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River and MCAS Cherry Point. It ranks fourth among states in terms of active-duty military personnel.
Several lawmakers interviewed by the Fayetteville Observer that represent districts surrounding Fort Bragg praised the governor’s plan to create the new agency.
“It’s probably long overdue, particularly in this state, with our military bases and the number of veterans we have, I think it should get that level of attention,” state Rep. John Szoka (R) told the paper.