This week, we kicked off a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, which was chartered by Congress in 1919. Leaders from the American Legion joined me at a ceremony at the State Capitol to kick off the “Year of the American Legion” with an official State of Nebraska proclamation. The organization, which boasts more than 2.1 million members nationwide today, is one of our country’s preeminent veterans and community service organizations.
In Nebraska, 31,000 of approximately 130,000 veterans are American Legion members. The Legion has 14 districts in the state with a combined 358 community posts. Their members are active in their communities and also at the State Capitol, where the Legislature and I have teamed up on a number of veterans initiatives. Over the past few years, we have brought a renewed focus to making Nebraska the best place in the nation to serve in the military and be a veteran. Together, we have delivered better service to our veterans, opened a new veterans’ home, and expanded opportunities for the next generation of servicemen and women.
We have been cutting red tape and delivering better service for our veterans by streamlining the service they receive from the state. Last year, the Legislature and I worked together to merge the state’s two veterans-related agencies to create a one-stop shop for veterans for better, integrated service delivery. The Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs (NDVA) provides our veterans with information on their rights, benefits, and other sources of aid. Now, they also oversee our veterans’ homes in four communities from Bellevue to Scottsbluff.
In August, the agency and I hosted a ceremony to cut the ribbon on the new Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home (CNVH), which will provide world-class accommodations to hundreds of Nebraska veterans. The CNVH is a 338,000-square-foot facility that is comprised of ten buildings on 67 acres. The main building is home to administration offices, a beautiful chapel, library, ceramics area, woodshop, lounge, guest rooms for traveling visitors, pharmacy, medical clinic, dental suite, and more. Connected to the main facility are two hubs, which house physical, occupational, and speech therapy areas and a restorative kitchen. The therapy area will be one of the few in the country with an anti-gravity treadmill. This new home will deliver a state-of-the-art experience for our veterans.
We are also working to expand job opportunities for the families of the next generation of Nebraska’s military servicemen and women. Last year, Senator Bruce Bostelman of Brainard and I worked together on LB 639 to increase employment opportunities for the spouses of military members and veterans. Senators and I have also successfully worked together on legislation to help provide reciprocity for spouses who hold professional licenses from other states, such as nurses. This year, I approved revisions to Rule 21 to make it easier for teachers from military families moving to Nebraska to get a teaching permit here. Military spouses with a valid out-of-state teaching license can now receive a three-year teaching certificate in Nebraska, so our schools have the opportunity to employ high-quality teachers in a timely manner. In recent months, the Nebraska Supreme Court approved a new rule which gives active duty military spouses greater flexibility to practice law in Nebraska.
As we celebrate the Year of the American Legion, this is an opportunity for us to thank our veterans for their service and to look for new ways to better serve them as a state. We should always be looking at how we can better serve the men and women who have sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom.