The following remarks were delivered by Representative Jeff Jones this Veteran's Day, November 11, 2019 on St. Simons Island.
Pictured from Left Commander Bennie Williams, Chairman of the Veterans Council of the Golden Isles ; Colonel Mike A. Adams, Chief of Staff, 3rd Infantry Division, US Army, Fort Stewart, GA, guest speaker at the Glynn County Veterans Day Celebration.
"Good morning everyone.
Each and every one of us here today is here for a singular purpose, to recognize and thank our veterans for their noble and selfless service to our country. To every veteran I offer my sincerest thanks for a job well done.
At last year’s Veterans Day ceremony, I quoted veteran Dan Crenshaw who is Texas’ 2nd Congressional District’s Republican Representative. Crenshaw a former Navy SEAL said “Certainly say, ‘Thanks for your service,’ but I would actually encourage you to say something else: Tell a veteran ‘never forget.’”
“When you say ‘never forget’ to a veteran, you are implying that as an American, you are in it with them, not separated by some imaginary barrier between civilians and veterans, but connected together as grateful fellow Americans.”
In that vein, I want to mention a way that we, as a community, can act on the “Never forget” promise in support of our vets.
I recently attended a meeting organized by the Glynn County Homeless Coalition. There were probably dozen agencies or organizations that each in their own way work to serve the homeless in our county. Some are privately funded and some are funded with our tax dollars but they are all united in an effort to help the homeless.
One item in particular that impressed me was an initiative they call “Rapid Re-Housing & Homeless Prevention”. Instead of only providing temporary housing, clothing, a hot meal and a bath, this initiative works to promote self-sufficiency to bring the homeless out that life condition by solving their homelessness. The goal is to return these people to a more normal life and to improve the quality of life for families.
What I also learned, and the reason I bring this up on Veterans Day, is that there are over 400 homeless veterans in Glynn County. The challenge o homeless vets is not isolated to just Glynn County as there are homeless vest throughout our state and the country. Sadly, although we know we have homeless vets in Glynn County, these heroes are currently being under-served or not served at all. The reason is because our local support agencies are having a difficult time identifying who these homeless vets are.
In an effort to help solve this problem, and working with the Glynn County Homeless Coalition, I recently contacted the Veterans Council of the Golden Isles to ask for their and their member veterans organizations help to identify our homeless vets so they can be served. Who better to identify our homeless vets than other vets living in our community? Our vets deserve better than to be left homeless. If you are interested in being a part of the effort to identify and help our homeless vets, I encourage you to contact me at my office 404-656-0178, that’s 404-656-0178, or you can email me through the official House of Representatives website. I also brought business cards with me today so see me after today’s ceremony. If you contact me, I will put you in touch with the Glynn County Homeless Coalition. Together, we can begin to solve the problem of veteran homelessness in Glynn County.
One other thing I want to quickly mention is that the Georgia Department of Veterans Service’s Glynn/McIntosh field office here in Glynn County, that normally employs 2 Veterans Services Officer (VSO), is currently short one VSO. As a result, the local office is extremely overworked and is not able to maintain its regular posted office hours. I’ve received letters that some of our veterans are having a difficult time receiving the veteran services that they need on a timely basis. To help solve this problem, I’m currently working with our Georgia’s Department of Veterans Services to get our local office fully staffed.
And finally, Phillip Singleton, one of the newest members of the Georgia House of Representatives, a veteran himself, has announced he is introducing legislation in the 2020 session of the Georgia General Assembly to make Vets retirement pay exempt from Georgia state income taxes; I support this legislation and will be signing on as a co-sponsor of the bill. This legislation was introduced in years past in the GA House, but the measure did not receive proper consideration and debate by House members. We are hoping to change that in 2020.
Many people are surprised to learn that GA has over 500,000 vets living in our state, which is among the highest in the country. By comparison, CA, FL and Texas each have over a million vets living in their states. Many of us believe that making veterans retirement pay exempt from Georgia state income taxes will help to grow Georgia’s veteran population. I think this is a good thing. An increase in veteran population in Georgia will result in our state receiving a positive economic benefit that will more than offset the loss of taxes Georgia now receives from veteran’s retirement income.Let’s hope this latest effort fairs better in the 2020 legislature.
The reason I mention these three items is that I believe it is my responsibility as your State Representative to help solve problems like those that are affecting Georgia’s veterans.
In closing, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this Veteran’s Day ceremony to honor and say thank you to our Vets. Thank you, veterans!
May God continue to bless our veterans, our state and our great country. God bless America!