Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed several pieces of legislation on Wednesday aimed to benefit veterans and their families on a tour that included stops at Cape Giardeau and Springfield.
One bill requires licensing boards to accept military training and education for licensing requirements. At a press conference at the Missouri Veterans Home in Cape Girardeau, Nixon said many members of the military have skill sets that are very transferable to the workplace, like truck drivers and emergency medical technicians - or EMT's.
"Literally, you have folks on battlefields, trained as EMT's, going out there, dealing with issues, bringing folks in to field hospitals that come back here, that it's impossible for them to get their EMT license very quickly,” Nixon said. “Or if they have a license before they were gone, it could lapse while they were gone."
Nixon also signed a bill to give resident student status to veterans at public colleges and universities.
Improving overseas voting
Inside the Missouri National Guard Armory in Springfield, the Democratic governor was applauded by service members for his support of Senate Bill 116. The bill's sponsor and an Army veteran of Iraq, Republican Sen. Will Kraus, says the law will ease the voting process for those serving overseas, which can take upwards of nine weeks through traditional mail.
"This process reduces that by allowing them to go online and request an absentee ballot. We think it's the right thing to do, it's important to get the military that are overseas serving our country the right to vote," Kraus said.
The Uniformed Military and Overseas Act is also intended to extend the time in which ballots from military voters can be counted.
Returning unclaimed medals
The governor also signed a bill aimed to increase the likelihood of identifying owners of unclaimed military medals by permitting State Treasurer Clint Zweifel to offer information such as photos to the public and veteran service organizations. It received strong support from Zweifel, whose administration put an end to the auctioning off of these medals when he took office in 2009. His office has since returned 45 medals to the families of veterans.
"This not only is a representation of our ability and their service that they've had, but often these medals that we find when I return them are a missing piece in that family's history that they've been able to get reconnected with,” Zweifel said at a press conference in Cape Girardeau. “So it's an especially important responsibility that we have that we take seriously, and we're excited to get to work on it."
The State Treasurer's Office currently has 95 unclaimed medals that they'll be attempting to return to their proper owners.