WRAL Discusses Why North Carolina Is One of the Most Military & Veteran Friendly States With Smith Anderson’s David Hayden and Kirk Warner


WRAL featured Smith Anderson attorneys and U.S. Army retired colonels David Hayden and Kirk Warner in a story about key steps North Carolina has taken to become one of the most military and veteran friendly states in the country, a segment of the population that contributes to the state’s robust economy and culture. Both David and Kirk serve on the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission, which was created by statute to advise the governor and North Carolina General Assembly on all things related to the military.

The military and defense sectors have an immense impact on the North Carolina economy, generating approximately $66 billion in economic activity per year, reported WRAL, and the workforce provided by military families and veterans is vital to the many growing industries in the state. David and Kirk point to key steps North Carolina has taken in recent years to repay veterans for their service:

  • State tax exemption for retired pay. The North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill, which became law January 1, 2021, that exempted military retirees from state taxes on their pensions and retired pay.

"That, to me, was far more important in the minds of veterans than I think any of our legislators realized, about whether or not to stay in North Carolina if they are leaving the military," David said.

  • Expanding special considerations for military families such as the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act, which compels states to give licensing reciprocity across state lines to members of the military and their spouses. Additionally, schools are creating programs and partnerships that acknowledge the unique situations military families face.
  • The Veterans Life Center, located in Butner, N.C., can house up to 100 veterans and provides a model for other states to replicate across the country. With the largest block grant ever issued by the North Carolina General Assembly, coupled with donations from generous individuals and partners, the center is converting veterans from homeless to homeowners. Kirk serves as vice-chair of the board and David, a past-chair, continues to serve on the board.

"We've got two years of positive stories of people who have gone in there who will tell you it saved their life. They are starting businesses, going to schools, reuniting with their families," David said. "I challenge any other state to provide evidence of something like this [facility.] It's a jewel, and it's something we would love to replicate across the country."

Support of and commitment to active duty, guard, reserve and deployed military members and their families has been a foundational trait of Smith Anderson and what they stand for since its inception in 1912.

"We do it because we're serving those who served us," Kirk said. “It's about that simple. These men and women are heroes, and we're just helping them on their journey."

David is a retired colonel who served as both an Engineer and Judge Advocate Generals (JAG) Corps Officer in the United States Army during a 29-year active military career. David has extensive experience as an attorney in government contracting, corporate investigations (internal and government) and employment law. Kirk is also a retired colonel in United States Army, Judge Advocate General Corps and during his 33-year military career, he served as the deputy legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon for three JCS Chairmen. At Smith Anderson, Kirk is a lead trial lawyer, focusing much of his work on complex and challenging product liability and commercial bet-the-company litigation.

A PDF of the full WRAL article can be viewed here.


Jump to Page

This website uses cookies to enhance your browsing experience and improve functionality. To learn more, you may view our Privacy Policy. By continuing to browse Smith Anderson's website, you are accepting our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.