RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — North Carolina has the third-largest military presence in the county and is home to more than 720,000 veterans. State legislators say they want to ensure the state stays the most military-friendly in the nation. 

The “No Veteran Left Behind Act” bill includes efforts to train first responders using veteran-centric crisis intervention. On Wednesday, the NC House unanimously approved the bill. Legislators have teamed up with sheriffs and law enforcement personnel across the state to provide a pilot program for this training. 

Lawmakers are also working closely with the independence fund which offers programs to our nation’s wounded, injured or ill veterans. Under House Bill 370 the group will provide additional education and training. One veteran wants his community to understand, not all veterans are broken.

“I like to use the analogy most of the time Veterans just need a hand up, they don’t need a hand out they just need a hand up,” says Sam Johnson who is also the Independence Fund Chief Programs Officer. “If we can get away from the narrative that we’re all broken, and some folks just need a hand up to get on the right path and to stay connected in a community with other people.”

The initial pilot program includes the sheriff’s departments in Brunswick, Chatham, Craven, Cumberland, McDowell, Nash, Onslow, Union, and Wayne counties

The bill is now in the Senate’s hands. Representative John Bell says the “No Veteran Left Behind Act” has grown in popularity. “Our goals through the Senate would be to instead of a multi county phase to see how we can launch a statewide pilot program,” he says.