Chandler OKs creation of veterans commission - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler OKs creation of veterans commission

October 24th, 2021 development
Chandler OKs creation of veterans commission

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke says yes, there are already many groups that represent the military but one thing lacking is an ability to work together for the benefit of all the city’s veterans.

“We have a lot of veteran groups that work with each other, but the communication could be better,” Hartke said. “The VFW and American Legion are great at addressing the needs and concerns of their members.”

To help coordinate the groups that already exists, the mayor hopes to create a Military and Veterans Affairs Commission. Council approved the plan Thursday.

Hartke said it will comprise seven people he hopes to name and get approved by Council in December. Their first meeting will be in January and Chandler residents can apply to be on the advisory panel through the city’s website.

Chandler currently has 35 citizen advisory committees that help plan the direction the city goes. Hartke says their contributions have been important, from helping prioritize parks projects to the city’s transportation to working on a capital improvement bond issue.

Some other cities in the Valley have similar military and veterans affairs commission.

“This is one that I looked at for a while,” Hartke said.

So what will this commission do?

“It’s going to bring together a group of veterans, and some non-veterans, and enable them to enhance some of the programs we have in Chandler,” Councilmember Matt Orlando said. “Whether it’s resume writing or whether it’s keeping the veterans memorial clean, giving tours.”

One event it would likely play a role in is the city’s annual Veterans Day recognition.

Because this commission would be blessed by the Council, its members would play a more active role in city government than existing veterans groups currently do.

Orlando, an Air Force veteran, said the city has always made its veterans a high priority and has often been a model for other councils around the state.

He said Chandler was the first city to start a Veterans Navigators program that helps those returning from the wars in the Middle East. He also said Chandler was the first to set aside a veterans’ court.

Orlando called the Military and Veterans Affairs Commission the next step for how the city cares for its veterans and their families.

“A lot of these programs are piecemeal here,” he said. “One of the things that was described to me by one of the veterans …, ‘Hey, let’s get all of the, like, American Legion, and the Daughters of the American Revolutionary War, the Korean War, and bring all those folks together and see how we can help each other. There’s only so many resources out there.’”

Hartke and Orlando said the idea for the commission came from the community. As it is now, the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office has been coordinating the city’s Veterans Day events.