Rep. Mari Leavitt (D-University Place) said she’ll use her appointment to the Joint Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs to push for reforms.
“Drive anywhere in this beautiful state and you’ll see how intertwined we are with the military,” said Leavitt, who grew up as part of a military family. “We are home to major Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard facilities, and many soldiers make Washington state their permanent home when they retire. That’s why it’s so important that we get this right for our soldiers and veterans.”
Washington ranks in the top seven states for the number of active-duty military personnel, beating out far larger states such as New York.
“It’s important that we focus on such matters as barriers to work and economic opportunity, cybersecurity, behavioral health and veterans suicide prevention, military partnerships, transition and outreach, training and support for military families,” Leavitt said.
The joint committee includes lawmakers in the House and Senate from both parties. In 2018, it tackled topics such as state benefits for veterans, support for service members deployed overseas, GI Bill participation, pension benefits for reserve and guard members and veterans suffering from homelessness.
“The issues facing soldiers and veterans aren’t simple, partly because we can’t control what the federal government and military decide to do,” Leavitt said. “It’s our duty to take care of everything we can from the state side of things, whether it’s by legislation, funding in the budget or cooperation with federal lawmakers and officials. And the work this committee does is critical to military members, their families and the communities around our bases.”
The committee was established by law (Revised Code of Washington 73.04.150), with information about meetings, agendas and reports available online here: leg.wa.gov/JointCommittees/VMA/Pages/default.aspx
Leavitt also serves on the House committee that focuses on veterans’ issues and as vice chair of the bipartisan House Veterans and Military Families Caucus.