Guadagno Launches Veterans Coalition, Introduces Plan To Make NJ More Military And Veteran-Friendly

Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno today formally kicked off Veterans for Kim, a coalition of brave military veterans and their families dedicated to getting out the vote for Kim Guadagno in the June primary and November general election.

At the American Legion in Rochelle Park, Guadagno thanked the veterans in attendance for their service and outlined initiatives she will pursue as governor to make New Jersey more military and veteran-friendly.

At the center of Guadagno's plan is a goal of ending veteran homelessness, cutting the veteran unemployment rate and reducing the number of veteran suicides in New Jersey.

"We must support the veterans of today – and tomorrow," said Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno. "As a military mom, this mission is personal for me. I want to make New Jersey the most military and veteran-friendly state in the country because keeping these heroes in our state will make our economy and our communities stronger."

"Over the last eight years, I have seen Kim Guadagno's passion for our military service men and women and our veterans," said Bob Salvini, chair of Veterans for Kim in Bergen County. "She has been a steadfast advocate for New Jersey's veterans as lieutenant governor and I trust her to make helping veterans and strengthening our state's military economy a priority as governor."

Over the last 7 years, progress has been made to end homelessness, lower unemployment and strengthen the military economy in New Jersey. As lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno chaired the New Jersey Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force, which released a series of recommendations to protect the state's military bases from closure by strengthening their economic stability. In January, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst was selected by the United States Air Force as the Main Operating Base 4 of the KC-46A Pegasus refueling tankers. This decision will bring 24 KC-46A's  to the base, which will provide financial and job security to the surrounding communities that depend on the base's longevity. Additionally, during the selection process, the lieutenant governor spearheaded an effort to help show the United States Air Force the incredible quality of life that New Jersey offers to those active, Guard and Reserve service members that are stationed and train on the base.

New Jersey's military installations generate employment for more than 73,000 people and support $9.6 billion in total economic activity.

In 2016, New Jersey had a 4.9% unemployment rate among veterans, down significantly from 7.9% in 2014; however, the veteran unemployment rate remains higher than the statewide average of 4.1%. In 2016, New Jersey had 556 homeless veterans, down 20% from 2015 according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. On average, New Jersey has among the lowest veteran suicide rates in the country, although the state's veteran suicide growth rate of 6.52% is one among the 20 highest in the nation. Between 2005 and 2011, New Jersey averaged 17.6 veteran suicides per 100,000, compared to a lower suicide rate of 8.6 civilians per 100,000.

New Jersey is home to over 400,000 veterans, including 30,000 women. With the number of women returning from combat rising, the lieutenant governor is particularly concerned that there are too few services focused on helping women transition to civilian life. As governor, she will direct the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs to review its services to ensure they are meeting the needs of those brave women who chose to risk their lives to defend our nation.