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Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, on the battlefield there is a code among the military that you don't leave anybody behind. That principle ought to apply to our returning veterans as well. It is essential for us to care for our veterans when they get home and show them the same respect and loyalty they showed us during their service.

This economic downturn has been especially tough for many of our veterans as they come back from Iraq and Afghanistan. The unemployment rate among veterans returning from those two countries was 9.5 percent in June. While this is clearly an improvement from last year, and an improvement in the entire economy over the last couple of years, it is still more than a point higher than the national average. For our youngest veterans, it is even worse--29 percent in 2011.

Our servicemembers have already done the toughest jobs out there. They are highly trained and extremely skilled. We ought to give them as many opportunities as possible to succeed when they get home. That means when veterans come back from war, they shouldn't have to do battle with bureaucrats.

I wanted to make a commonsense suggestion, so I filed a bill--which recently passed both the House and the Senate--to remove some of those bureaucratic obstacles in our veterans' way and to make it easier for them to get occupational and professional licenses when they get home.

The Veteran Skills to Jobs Act is a bipartisan bill cosponsored by 17 Senators and supported by veterans organizations such as the American Legion. I ask unanimous consent that the American Legion's commentary on this legislation be printed in the Record.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

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Mr. NELSON of Florida. The bill directs Federal agencies to recognize relevant military training when certifying veterans for Federal occupational licenses. It is common sense. If veterans have skills learned in the military, they ought to be able to utilize those skills, that training, without having to go through duplicate training when they get into a specialized civilian job. If the military training is found to be comparable to the civilian requirements, the veteran would be deemed qualified for that occupation.

These are the licenses people need in order to get jobs in the civilian sector.

I want to give an example. Let's say an Air Force or Navy aircraft mechanic gets out of the service. That veteran may want to use those skills learned in the military to work in the commercial airline business. To do so, that veteran must be certified as an aircraft mechanic technician, certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. This requires an airframes and powerplant license from the FAA.

Although the veteran has trained to do this, this highly skilled occupation for our military, what we are seeing all too often is common sense goes out the window, and that veteran may have to go through redundant and expensive training to get that airframes and powerplant license. Of course, that does not make sense.

This is not just a Federal issue. Many States are starting to recognize military training when certifying veterans for State licenses, such as nurses and truckdrivers. I am pleased that the Federal Government will now move in this direction as well. We have already passed it unanimously in the Senate; likewise, they have passed it in the House. Both bills are down in the other's respective Chambers. We need to go ahead and pass this legislation. Today I will move for final passage of the bill, and I know of no objection since we got it out of the Senate unanimously.

One of the greatest honors I have in my job is getting to meet and thank our veterans and current members of our military and all of our national security apparatus. It is up to us to stand by these folks. Passing legislation to help employ veterans, such as the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act, is one way we can thank them.

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