I have had the privilege of helping Veterans all my adult life, starting long before I ever entered politics. In the 1970’s, as a young flight instructor, I taught retiring Vietnam-era military pilots how to fly the civilian small jet, the Cessna Citation II. Ours was a private training company, but the vets’ costs were shared by the federal government under the G.I. Bill. It was a great example of government working with the private sector to pay our dues to our returning military pilots and integrate them back into civilian life.

Years later, as a civilian contractor to the U.S. Naval Academy, we provided basic flight training to those midshipmen who were considering naval aviation as a possible career path. We operated out of Fort Meade, Maryland, and I learned as much from my students, as they learned from me. My interactions with those young men (there were no women at The Academy in the early 1980’s) gave me an abiding admiration for their professionalism, maturity, work ethic and patriotism. I can assure you from personal experience that the U.S. Navy is commanded by some very fine people.

Now that I am in the legislature, my determination to do right by our Veterans continues unabated. We must make Colorado the very best state in the union for vets to come home to. That’s why I wrote and passed, with bipartisan support, the Skills for Jobs Act of 2012 [HB 12-1061]. The legislation will help vets seeking a new line of work to acquire the right skills: skills that industry tells us are in short supply and lead to well-paid jobs. It’s also why I was proud to support, encourage and speak on behalf of the legislature at the launch of Colorado’s “Hiring Our Heroes” program, a co-operative pro-vet partnership between the government and the franchising industry, a powerful motor of our Colorado economy. My thanks, on behalf of those I represent, to the franchising industry for doing what you do for our vets.