Veterans • State services disjointed.
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A task force looking at how Utah serves veterans will ask the Legislature to streamline the myriad but disjointed state services offered to those who served their country.
The Veterans Reintegration Task Force, created by the Legislature to suggest changes, has been meeting monthly since July. Its 20 members include lawmakers and representatives from state agencies, universities, the military and business.
On Friday, several members pointed to what they see as the single most important change the Legislature can make: Give vets one point of contact to access employment, disability, education, health care or other services.
"We're way too fragmented in this state in how we help veterans reintegrate into civilian life," said Frank Maughan, state commander of The Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Maughan said he has traveled to several other states in the past year, and all have a single contact point for veterans, typically a veterans agency representative in each county courthouse.
Utah's Department of Veterans Affairs could act as the coordinating office, several task force members said, but it would require more employees.
Terry Schow, executive director of the office, suggested that the 17 jobs counselors advising vets around Utah could instead be Veterans Affairs points-of-contact with job counseling among their duties.
"We have everything we need, we just need legislation to make it simple and efficient, and we can probably save money," said Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City.
The task force's staff is preparing legislation to streamline the services, and also to propose that the task force be given a second year to do its work.
"This is the most important discussion about vets [in Utah] in 50 years," Schow said after the meeting.