SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – South Carolina Veterans’ Affairs Secretary William Grimsley said he’s working to connect resources and services to veterans across the state.

Grimsley spoke to a group at a One Spartanburg event on Monday, addressing concerns and solutions to help Veterans and their families. He said across the state, thousands of people have a military connection, whether they served, have a military spouse or parent, or extended family member who served. He said it’s important that those families and veterans are set up for success in life after service.

“We come out to about a million people, plus or minus some change. In South Carolina, one-fifth of the population have some sort of military connection,” said Grimsley.

Grimsley said for some veterans, it’s hard to transition back to civilian life.

“Transitions are tough for anybody, but for military people, they seem to be particularly tough,” said Grimsley.

He said his department has four goals: assist, integrate, advocate, and inform veterans and military families. He believes they need to better connect veterans to resources.

“We say ‘thank you for your service’ by really, really sustaining this environment where you have the opportunity to thrive,” said Grimsley.

He said one way to do that is through workforce development. Grimsley said many veterans are highly-skilled and determined.

“It’s not an unemployment problem, it’s an underemployment problem. We’re not employing these really vastly skilled group of people, with enormous background knowledge, skills, and experience,” said Grimsley.

He said some companies, like Lonza in Greenwood County, have opportunities specifically for veterans.

“They’ve made a pledge to have 25 percent of their workforce be veterans by 2025. That’s a stake in the ground,” said Grimsley.

He said it’s an initiative he wants to grow and see other companies do too. Grimsley said veterans need lasting support to thrive, not just survive.

“We have to create and sustain this environment into perpetuity and be flexible about how we do it,” said Grimsley.

He also encouraged people to take part in a military community job fair next month. There are virtual and in-person events happening on May 10 and May 11. Grimsley said veterans and their family members can explore career opportunities. People can register and find more information online.