Ahead of Veterans Day, Governor Shapiro and First Lady Lori Shapiro Join Chef Robert Irvine to Host Pennsylvania Veterans at Governor’s Residence
November 10, 2023
Governor Shapiro and First Lady Serve Pennsylvania Veterans at Governor’s Residence, Highlight Challenges Facing Veterans
Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Josh Shapiro and First Lady Lori Shapiro joined Chef Robert Irvine to serve Pennsylvania veterans during a luncheon at the Governor’s residence and to honor their service ahead of Veterans Day.
Pennsylvania is home to nearly 800,000 veterans – the fourth-largest veterans’ population in the country. The Shapiro Administration has been working to serve Pennsylvania veterans across the Commonwealth – from making improvements to veterans’ homes to investing in county mental health services and workforce training programs for veterans and military families.
Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) was proud to announce that over the course of the last year, it has helped to connect Pennsylvania veterans to nearly $1 billion in compensation and pension benefits earned through their service.
No Pennsylvanian should worry where their next meal is coming from. But one in five military families struggle with food insecurity. The Irvine Foundation works to combat this crisis by distributing gift cards to families in need, handing out food at grocery stores, and hosting events like the one held today at the Pennsylvania Governor’s residence to serve food and raise awareness of food insecurity among veterans.
“The First Lady and I were honored to serve veterans today at the residence, and we thank all of our veterans for their dedication and service to this country,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “Our veterans have served our Commonwealth and fought for our freedoms, and my Administration has their back. We will continue to work to ensure that the brave men and women who protected our freedoms can prosper here in the Commonwealth.”
“It’s great to be here for Robert Irvine Foundation’s Breaking Bread With Heroes at the Governor’s Residence. To have Governor Shapiro and the First Lady host this event and to provide this beautiful space is a true honor,” said Chef Robert Irvine, Founder of Robert Irvine Foundation. “Today is all about our veterans. Together, we’re showing appreciation, and there’s no better way to show our love for the nation’s heroes than breaking bread over a delicious meal. My culinary team and I are grateful to be here and share this day with all of you.”
“Our veterans fought and continue to fight for our security in an unsecured world, because that’s what they promised they would do,” said Major General Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania Adjutant General and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Our Republic depends on the willingness of its finest men and women to step forward and to serve, to dedicate themselves to a greater cause. We must ensure our veterans receive the benefits they deserve and so rightly earned, along with a sincere expression of gratitude from a grateful nation.”
This year, the Shapiro Administration has been working to support and uplift veterans and to make sure they receive the benefits earned through their service.
In February, the PA Department of State (DOS) and DMVA unveiled a military occupational crosswalk to assist veterans and service members in translating their work experience into civilian jobs in the Commonwealth. The crosswalk makes it easier for service members to obtain professional and occupational licensing by aligning their military experience, education, skills, and credentials to civilian career opportunities.
In May, the Shapiro Administration broke ground on major updates to its largest veterans’ home in Hollidaysburg. Working with federal partners at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Commonwealth and the federal government are investing $97 million in the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home. Thanks to this investment, veterans at the Hollidaysburg home will have a fully modern and accessible state-of-the-art facility.
In June, Shapiro Administration announced the launch of, “Welcome Home PA,” an online resource to help service members separating or retiring from active duty acclimate to a successful civilian life in Pennsylvania. The new website includes information about employment and licensing, education, securing military paperwork, veteran crisis and much more. These resources can be found by going to www.pa.gov/welcome-back-veterans. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania employs roughly 14,000 employees with military service. Eligible veterans are given priority in the referral to job openings and training opportunities, with disabled veterans receiving the highest priority.
In early October, the PA Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) announced the availability of $800,000 in grant funding to support Veterans Employment Program (VEP) projects. These projects connect veterans with competitive job opportunities and help address barriers to gainful employment. One grant will be awarded to a program serving only Delaware County, a region with a disproportionately high number of veteran residents three other awards will be provided across Pennsylvania.
This week, the PA Department of Agriculture (PDA) highlighted investments in the Veteran Farming Network, a grassroots network of veterans, military members, and their spouses who farm and operate agribusinesses. PDA’s Veterans in Agriculture grants are now open for applications again this year. Veterans’ services organizations can apply for up to $200,000 in Pennsylvania Veterans in Agriculture funds to deliver subgrants to military veterans for farm and related business start-ups and expansion. Read more about the grant program here.
In the 2023-24 budget, the Shapiro Administration restored $20 million in county mental health funding to help counties provide mental health services and address deepening workforce shortages. Governor Shapiro also signed an Executive Order earlier this year creating a first-of-its-kind Behavioral Health Council and directing Commonwealth agencies to streamline and improve the accessibility of mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services across the Commonwealth.
The Shapiro Administration thanks Pennsylvania veterans for their service.