A bill to expand job opportunities for Alaska veterans and members of the National Guard was signed into law recently during a signing ceremony in Fairbanks.
Every state offers a hiring preference to veterans and National Guard members for employment in the public sector, but private employers can't offer a similar preference under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 unless the state passes authorizing legislation.
Alaska is now the 38th state to adopt legislation to give private employers the option of offering a veteran hiring preference.
A 2012 survey found that two-thirds of veterans reported that the greatest challenge in transitioning to civilian life was finding a job. In 2016, the National Bureau of Labor Statistics released data indicating that the jobless rate among young male veterans exceeded the unemployment rate of their civilian counterparts. The U.S. military discharges 160,000 active duty service members and 110,000 reserve and National Guard members every year. The Defense Manpower Data Center reports that in 2015 over 2,000 military personnel returned to Alaska upon separation. Alaska is currently home to the highest number of veterans per capita in the nation.
The Alaska House of Representatives passed the legislation last year by a unanimous vote of 39-0. The Alaska State Senate unanimously passed the bill on May 12. Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed it into law last week during a bill signing ceremony at the VFW Golden Heart Post 3629 in Fairbanks.