COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Georgia is lagging behind several other southern states, like South Carolina and Alabama, when it comes to creating the best environment for military families.
Several Georgia lawmakers met Thursday with military spouses and others about how to help those on or near Fort Benning.
For this series of roundtable meetings, members of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus already made stops in Augusta, Savannah and Macon. But it was time for people in Columbus to voice their concerns on education, healthcare, and employment.
With Fort Benning at our back door, the Chattahoochee Valley has the fifth largest military population in the country. The roundtable discussion allowed family members of soldiers and veterans to meet face-to-face with Georgia representatives.
"Educational opportunities for military kids and their concerns about the fact that we need to have special counselor for military students to help them with their unique issues, they were concerned about access to certain medications for veterans." said Rep. Carolyn Hugley.
The discussion is part of a new initiative by the Georgia House Democratic Caucus called "A Promise Kept." It's aimed at improving the lives of military families and veterans across Georgia.
Ella Lewis, a widow of a Vietnam veteran, attended the discussion to hear the concerns of others and tell her story.
"I didn't come out to speak I just come to listen and I couldn't hold it back what happened to me during my husband military career," said Lewis
Lewis says her husband died in 2013 after he was misdiagnosed by a military hospital and suffered from many other health problems.
"They thought he had cancer in the bones but it turns it was osteoporosis," said Lewis
She says some of the same Georgia representatives at the round table, Ed Harbison and Calvin Smyre, helped her through her time of need.
Fort Benning brings in $21 billion each year to the local economy. Lawmakers discussed ways to keep high skilled veterans in the community.
"Remove barriers of those professional that come to our state. They move here and we know they are only going to be here about 2-3 years because they are military but they have a professional license and our licensing process creates a barrier for them," said Hugley.
Georgia reps from each round table will take the information and ideas and introduce legislation to try and address some of the concerns of citizens. The Georgia session begins the second Monday in January.