Gov. Rick Perry today reiterated Texas' commitment to ensuring veterans and their families have the resources necessary to receive an education, get a job and return to civilian life after their deployments are over. The governor was joined by Texas Workforce Commissioner Ronny Congleton to announce a $3 million workforce development initiative, which seeks to maximize a returning veteran's knowledge, skills and abilities for college credit and employment.
"This initiative will connect the dots between the high-quality training our military offers and college coursework and professional certification standards, especially in the Allied Health Care Occupations, such as physical therapists, X-Ray and pharmacy technicians," Gov. Perry said. "As Texas' population grows, the demand for those essential skills continues to increase, and this program will accelerate veterans' transfer from the military's top-quality training environment into helping Texans."
This comprehensive strategy includes funds for demonstration grants in the three areas of the state with the highest veteran populations -- San Antonio, Houston and Temple-Killeen -- to help veterans obtain the maximum credit from their military experience toward a degree or a professional certification. The program will initially focus on the Allied Health Occupations, which are in demand in Texas and offer unique opportunities for veterans' with transferrable skills. The funds will also be used to enhance support and services for the employment needs of military families who need job search assistance and training.
"Texas is a model for the nation in welcoming our returning veterans home the right way -- by putting that experience back to work," Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Chairman Tom Pauken said. "These young men and women have answered our country's call under very difficult circumstances. Now, we are making it possible for them to use their talents in the civilian world to make this a better state and a better nation."
TWC and other state agencies will work with community colleges in these three regions of the state to develop a model to assist in the transfer of military experience from all service branches for credit toward a degree, and eventually employment in a high demand occupation. Additionally, in collaboration with this initiative, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation is developing a program that will allow more military experience to count toward licensure for certain occupations.
"Our veterans have been trained by our nation's premier employer, it is common sense to consider their unique and specialized training in order to help our veterans transition from the battlefield to the workforce as quickly as possible," said Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Chair of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations.
This initiative builds on the previously announced Texas Veterans Leadership Program (TVLP), a TWC initiative that connects returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with the tools they need to assimilate into civilian life in Texas by providing employment and training services, resources and referrals.
"Service men and women are highly skilled, experienced individuals who have a tremendous amount to offer their communities when they return home after serving their country," TWC Commissioner Congleton said. "This initiative will ultimately give our returning veterans faster employment opportunities."
Gov. Perry is committed to ensuring that veterans have access to the services and support they need. The state has allocated a total of $6.2 million for the expansion of mental health programs, services and support for veterans. In addition to these grants, nearly $1.2 million was appropriated by the Legislature last session for specialized trauma training for therapists, an online system to help veterans find services and to create a training program for peer-to-peer veteran and family supports. Additionally, the Governor's Office has funded up to 12 new veterans counselors to help the Texas Veterans Commission reduce the number of veterans' claims pending at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regional offices in Waco and Houston.