FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2011
(Press conference video)
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho -- Western Governors opened their Annual Meeting today with a discussion on how to increase educational and career opportunities for veterans.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), Chairman of the Western Governors' Association, noted that there are approximately two million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, whose unemployment rate is higher than that of the general population.
"We heard today what our states are doing to help boost opportunities for our returning veterans to get good jobs and to build new careers," Otter said. "We owe them that and much more for their service."
Gov. Christine Gregoire (Wash.), WGA's Vice Chair, led today's discussion with her colleagues and invited speakers. They included former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Jim Nicholson; Brigadier General Robert F. Hedelund; Jeff Bacon, Director of the Wyakin Warrior Foundation; and David Brasuell, Administrator of the Idaho Division of Veterans Services.
"Earlier this year, Washington became the first state in the nation to honor our veterans by allowing private employers to give them preference in hiring," Gregoire said. "Especially during these difficult economic times, it is important that we do all we can to help our returning veterans."
Tomorrow morning the governors will take up the topics of restoring and managing the health of Western forests susceptible to mega wildlfires, insect infestations, disease and invasive species. Gov. John Kitzhaber (Ore.) will moderate the session.
Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will discuss with the governors ways of working together to protect natural resources from the effects of climate variability and change.
The day will conclude with a plenary session on reducing energy demand by improving energy efficiency in the industrial sector. Gov. Gregoire, the incoming chair, will then discuss her priorities for the coming year.
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