Our observance of Memorial Day provided us an opportunity to reflect upon the sacrifices made by so many Americans in service to our great country. It is because of their service that I was proud to introduce legislation last week to help express the appreciation we all feel. The Helping Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Return to Employment (HIRE) at Home Act, which I introduced with Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat from Arkansas, is a small gesture of thanks compared to what our service members do for us every day, but still an important proposal that would help many of our returning veterans.
The military is not all guns and bullets. Many men and women perform technical jobs as part of their service: driving a large truck, enlisting as a nursing assistant, helping the wounded as a paramedic. They are trained to perform their jobs with great skill in a demanding environment in service to our country. Yet when their tour of duty is complete, many of them, when seeking similar jobs as a civilian, find they don't meet the certification requirements outlined by state licensing agencies. The HIRE at Home Act seeks to do away with this common yet unnecessary hurdle that often stands between veterans and civilian employment.
The problem lies in a lack of communication between the Department of Defense (DoD), which does the training, and the state licensing agencies, which in many cases lacks access to the information about the scope of military training courses. Our veterans are often qualified for civilian jobs, but the proof is getting lost in the shuffle.
That's where the HIRE at Home Act comes in. The bill would amend the eligibility requirements for two veterans' employment programs: the Disabled Veterans' Outreach program and Local Veterans' Employment Representative program. These programs utilize veterans' specialists to help returning service members, including disabled veterans, find employment as civilians.
The bill would require state licensing agencies to share the eligibility criteria applicants must meet for a state certification, as well as the manner in which they evaluate a veteran's prior training when applying for these grants. This way, DoD can train service members to ensure they are not only skilled, but also meet the certification requirements for similar civilian jobs upon completion of active duty.
If someone is qualified to drive a truck or care for the injured while serving his or her country, that person should be qualified to do so here at home. The Hire at Home Act is a great step toward making that a reality.
We can never fully repay our veterans for the sacrifices they have made in uniform. But the Hire at Home Act is a way of showing our gratitude and ensuring the country they've fought to protect helps them clear hurdles to civilian jobs after their service.