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My family recently celebrated a milestone shared by families throughout Hardin County and across Kentucky — my son graduated from high school. We enjoyed a formal dinner and dance, the graduation ceremony and a blow-out of a party with family and friends.
As I told those gathered to rejoice on Caleb’s behalf, our celebration was not merely backward-looking as we reflect on 12 years of education and investment. It also was forward-looking as we count the blessings of opportunity that await him in the months and years to come.
Caleb enters the U.S. Air Force Academy later this month and I am pleased to know my son has a heart to serve and to lead — in uniform and beyond.
This moment of reflection and anticipation is one countless parents have experienced or will encounter soon. But it is fitting that we also step back and consider where we have been and where we are going in other areas of life.
Earlier this year, the state Speaker of the House asked me to serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Military and Veterans’ Affairs Task Force. I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Task Force in Denver. We shared notes on legislation passed in recent years to support those serving in the military and the veterans who have served faithfully in the past.
I am proud to say Kentucky was recognized for several of the pieces of legislation we have enacted recently to support our military families. In addition to passing the military tax exemption a couple of years ago, we recently made it easier for military spouses to transfer their professional licenses as their family is transferred to Kentucky and to meet our standards to get re-licensed here.
The Department of Defense recognizes that easing the burden on military families is a key component of aiding in retention. The need to keep and support our highly trained military professionals is a national security imperative. Kentucky’s willingness to step up to the plate and deliver on promises made through numerous military-community partnerships has been noticed at the national level.
One of the presentations at that meeting in Denver focused on the possibility of additional BRAC rounds. It is widely believed there will not be another round of BRAC anytime soon. What is likely is that the Defense Department will continue to right-size the force structure at all of its bases. That means the job of maintaining a military-community partnership will never end.
The advice offered by one key speaker was simple:
Kentucky has been on the forefront in these areas for some time. At the state and local level, through legislative efforts and the advocacy of One Knox, the Core Committee and the Hardin County Road Shows, we have supported our military families and welcomed new members of our community.
We have given military personnel reasons to sink roots here in Kentucky and to stay or relocate here once their military career is complete. Those folks have been a vibrant source of new businesses, jobs and activity in our economy. We have seen government and utilities partner with bases to increase energy efficiency and lower operating costs.
And, as I am endeavoring with this very column, we have kept people informed not only about the changes under way but also the opportunities presented.
We can look back with pride on how Kentucky and Hardin County in particular have met past challenges united in purpose and determined to succeed.
Returning to my graduation theme, I am reminded of another young man who is about to commence a career of military service. Trey Daniels, the son of Jim and Jan Daniels of Rineyville, just graduated from the Air Force Academy. When I first counseled him on the possibility of pursuing that path, the challenges and uncertainties loomed large. But thanks to hard work, perseverance, dedication and the support of his family, Trey has been commissioned as a lieutenant in the Air Force.
He will face new challenges and he will rise to meet every one.
A graduation ceremony is called a commencement because the focus should be on the future. I am reassured to know that our community is looking forward to how we can continue to lead Kentucky and the nation.
As we partner with our military and stay united, not only will we “stand” as our state motto promises — we will prosper.
Tim Moore of Elizabethtown represents the 26th District in the state House of Representatives.