COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs (SCDVA) hosted its annual Governor’s Summit on Veterans’ Affairs on Thursday, September 7th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Pastides Alumni Center in Downtown Columbia. This meeting was a special presentation to Governor Henry McMaster on the state of Veterans’ Affairs in South Carolina. Governor McMaster and Secretary Todd B. McCaffrey delivered opening remarks. SCDVA Director of Operations, David Rozelle, led the discussion SCDVA’s Action Plan for fiscal year 2023-2024.
The meeting drew representatives and SCDVA partners from state and local governments, major corporations, small business organizations, and Veteran service organizations and followed this general agenda:
- Overview of the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs
- Fiscal Year 2022 - 2023 Action Plan Review & Focus Areas Performance
- Fiscal Year 2023 - 2024 Action Plan Overview
- Closing Remarks – Governor & Secretary
During the event, SCDVA representatives and their partners briefed the Governor on four focus areas that they believed to be crucial to helping more Veterans get to a thriving status.
Focus Area 1: Expand the Coalition
The first focus area involves expanding the South Carolina Veteran Coalition. With this focus area, SCDVA intends to improve its ability to effectively and efficiently align available resources to Veteran needs by increasing the number of coalition partners actively participating in this state-wide network. SCDVA has worked towards this goal by partnering with 84 organizations at state, federal, and local levels to connect Veterans with the resources they need.
Focus Area 2: Reduce Veteran Suicide
The second focus area intends to reduce Veteran suicide rates by connecting Veterans with trained Palmetto Pathfinders, partnering with organizations who utilize the "Ask The Question" Suicide Prevention Campaign, and providing gun locks to Veterans or their family members.
Focus Area 3: Improve Veteran Services in Under-Resourced Counties
The third focus area seeks to reduce the broad disparity in Veteran Services available to those in urban counties and those in rural and poorly resourced counties. One way SCDVA has worked towards this goal is by expanding Veteran Treatment Courts to three additional counties in the state.
Focus Area 4: Improve Educational Opportunities for Military Children
The final focus area intends to make South Carolina a station of choice for service members by addressing the long-standing concerns about public education. Progress has been achieved towards this goal through bringing awareness to alternatives to traditional public schools that are available in the state as well as increasing the number of Purple Star School Districts to better support military-connected children and their families.
"All of this just reinforces the doctrine that we have in this administration which is communicate, collaborate, and cooperate. And we try to eliminate anywhere that there is a silo and we take it down. This is a great group here because you have people from all over the place and if you try to work in a silo you will fail. But if you break down those walls and establish that communication, cooperation, and collaboration there is just no limit to the talent that can be combined," said SC Governor Henry McMaster.
"South Carolina is attracting Veterans, that's the important piece. It goes to the fact that these Veterans in the room are thriving, that's the talent that drives South Carolina industries, that drives the South Carolina economy. So anything that we can do to keep and attract Veterans to come to South Carolina we believe is beneficial for the state. And at the same time provide the services and capabilities to help them get through the transition process and if they struggle and if they stumble, we're in a position to help them get back up and move on an continue with their journey to become thriving," said SCDVA Secretary Todd B. McCaffrey
The event was broadcasted live on SCETV and streamed live on the SCDVA Facebook page.