Veterans Day is here and it always gets me a little choked up. These are our friends, family, spouses, co-workers, and neighbors. Most of the time you may not even know they served. They are humble. In fact, we are just using first names in this blog article to protect their privacy.
Forward Wayne County appreciates our veterans, their families, and the costs they have endured to serve and protect our country. We thank the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy service men and women for their service.
This year it also made me think about what our veteran population looks like in Wayne County. Here are some interesting facts from the US Census Bureau:
- 17.4 million veterans in the United States
- 365,000 veterans in Indiana
- 4,600 veterans in Wayne County
That’s about seven percent of our population.
After being stationed all over the world and seeing some amazing sights and locations, veterans are choosing to come back to Wayne County to live. And we want them to come back! One of Forward Wayne County’s goals are to increase the county’s population level. To veterans, it’s about home, comfort, and community.
“I love the community I live in. There are lots of opportunities to give back and Wayne County is a place where people know each other and help each other out. You won’t find that in a big city,” said Keith, a Navy Veteran.
Kara, a local Air Force veteran, said, “I came back to Wayne County because I needed a support system and my family was here. Also, the cost of living is amazing here. I was living in Hawaii and the cost to live there is astronomical.”
Veterans also work and own their own businesses in Wayne County. You can find them in every industry and in all job positions. A few more Wayne County veteran facts from American Community Surveys:
- 96% of veteran’s income is above poverty level
- $44, 841 is their median income, just slightly above the rest of Wayne County
- 1.9% is their unemployment rate, as compared to 5.8% of the rest of Wayne County
Many of our Wayne County employers also actively recruit veteran workers. Here is an article from Military.com on why hiring veterans is a good idea.
“I struggled to find a job at first and then my local WorkOne veteran representative suggested I go to the Veterans Resource fair. I had six interviews scheduled by the time I left,” said Kara. “Now I work for a local organization that I love. I have the opportunity to service students and make a difference in their lives. And I can visually see the impact.”
Rick, retired Army 1st Sergeant added, “My local employer recruited me based on my veteran status. And I was able to demonstrate that I had the skills needed for the job.”
“I love working in Wayne County. There are vast opportunities here in all fields. You just have to look for them,” added Keith.
Veterans are also educated here. According to American Community Surveys, 37.6% of Wayne County veterans have some college or associate degree. That’s higher than the 35% goal that Forward County and its employability coalition has for the entire county. Ivy Tech, Purdue Polytechnic Richmond, and IU East all have veteran students.
Here are some statistics that IU East provided:
- 131 currently enrolled veterans (83 Indiana residents)
- 15 of these veterans are from Wayne County
- 288 veteran alumni over the past 5 years
- IU East graduated 63 veterans in 2020
“Over the past five years, the number of veterans attending IU East has significantly increased. This is also true for active service men and women. Many seem to appreciate the flexibility we offer through face-to-face and online programming. We also work closely with veterans and active military to transfer credits toward their degree,” said Jason Troutwine, Vice Chancellor for Externals Affairs at IU East.
“Our team is so grateful for the men and women who serve, and have served, our country in the armed forces. Americans owe them a debt of gratitude. The IU East faculty and staff are proud to work with our veterans and help them achieve their academic goals.”
And the impact is evident.
Rick says, “When I got out of the military and decided to go back to school, IU East invested in me and made my experience a great one. They have a whole team working with veteran students and it shows.”
Keith agrees. “It was local, affordable, and had the degree program I was looking for. I appreciate all their efforts on my behalf.”
Kara’s experience was no different. “I was able to get both my bachelor’s and master’s degree and that made a huge difference in my life.”
They work here, they live here, they are educated here. These are our friends, family, spouses, co-workers, and neighbors. We thank you for your and for your contributions to our county. Happy Veterans Day.