Governor Cooper discusses the importance of a successful transition from military to civilian life

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Serving the country in the military is an honorable life experience that is also unique compared to many other jobs. Governor Roy Cooper was in the east on Tuesday to show his support for veterans on their journey of transition to civilian life and beyond.

Veterans shared powerful stories about how their time in the military affected them not only during their time serving our country but for the rest of their lives.

Jerry Ensminger is a Marine Corps veteran who says he served at Camp Lejeune during the years when water at the base was believed to have been contaminated.

The water is believed to have not only affected him but also his wife and their daughter Janey, who passed away at the age of nine from Leukemia.

In August of 1997, he heard the news on the TV that he says changed the rest of his life.

“They said they wanted to study the children who had been conceived, carried, or born while living aboard Camp Lejeune for birth defects and childhood cancers and primarily leukemia. I dropped my plate of spaghetti on the living room floor,” Ensminger said.

Ensminger believes that the health of those serving our country now needs to be prioritized to ensure a healthy transition into civilian life as well.

“With the water contamination in our fight is to make sure this never happens to another group of people whether they are military or civilian, this can’t happen again,” Ensminger said.

With a heavy population of those serving on active duty in the military as well as veterans in Eastern Carolina, Governor Cooper said it is important that the transition to civilian life has successful routes to employment, family life, as well as good physical and mental health.

Jordan Whichard, the chief deputy secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce says, that places like NCWorks career center are working to make that transition smoother.

“To help veterans translate those skills and all those career achievements from sort of a military perspective to a private sector perspective, that really gives veterans a leg up,” Whichard said.

According to Gov. Cooper, the goal is to help veterans transition out to their civilian lives and maintain their lives here in the state after their time served as well.