By José “Pepe” Díaz
Miami-Dade County Commissioner, District 12, Miami-Dade County Military Liaison and Chairman of the Military Affairs Board
For a few months you’ve been reading about the recently formed Miami-Dade County Military Affairs Board, as well as the latent needs of our military community, the families and service men and women at home and abroad. This board’s mission is not easy but I can tell you that the board members and I, as the Chairman, have accepted this mission and will be the voice for our service men and women on issues like health care, housing, employment, disability claims, vocational training and many others.
I have met with many of our men and women, and the reality is that unemployment, housing, health and welfare are all important factors each of them face when they return from serving our country. In Miami-Dade County alone, we currently have 1400 homeless veterans and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationwide, unemployment for our men and women for the month of January was 7.6 percent. This is just a few issues they must deal with when returning home or while away. Our focus is to find solutions and resources to make their life easier and stress-free after all their sacrifices, as well as to assure them that their commitment to this great country has not been in vain.
Part of the work we have been doing at the Military Affairs Board in the first months has been pairing up with organizations that serve the needs of the military community. Among them is the Department of Labor, which has been mentioned in a previous article for their VETS Program (Veteran’s Employment and Training Service), which helps veterans, reservists and National Guard members in securing employment and the rights and benefits associated with such. (For more information about this program call (954) 677-5818 or visit www.dol.gov/vets .) The Department of Labor representative Millie Herrera has been working with the Military Affairs Board and its requirements, to serve the present needs of our military community and has created a Veterans Job Fair which will present actual and real job opportunities to veterans, in conjunction with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), Miami Dade College, South Florida Workforce, The Beacon Council South Florida Industry Liaison Group and The Coalition of Chambers of Commerce. This event will take place on Thursday, February 21, 2013 from 9:00AM-3:00PM at
Miami Dade College –Kendall Campus,
Academic Support Center
Building R – Room 402
11011 SW 104th Street, Miami, FL 33176
RSVP to Millie Herrera at 305.271.0532
The employment issue is one of many that the Military Affairs Board is purposed to tackle. In order to have the necessary reach, the Board of County Commissioners passed an ordinance this month to increase the membership of the board, authorize the board to expend funds, solicit gifts, solicit and approve contracts and grants. It also authorized the creation of the Military Affairs Board Trust Fund. This ordinance provides the mechanism for the Military Affairs Board to raise funds for the establishment of the programs that will tackle the identified needs of our military community. This is a great step forward in advancing the board’s mission of promoting measures to enhance the quality of life for active, reserve, retired and disabled military personnel and their families, as well as the families of deceased military personnel in Miami-Dade County. If you wish to contribute to the efforts of the Military Affairs Board, please visit the site at www.miamidade.gov/advocacy/military_home.asp