Congressman John Tierney (D-MA), joined by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), sent a letter to the Department of Defense supporting efforts to reduce unemployment among the nation's veterans. The Congressmen urged the Defense Department to quickly begin a pilot program designed to make it easier for service members who had specialty occupations in the military to receive credentials for similar positions in the civilian workforce.
"More must be done to help our veterans, particularly those who are struggling to find employment. For instance, it is common sense for veterans who had certain experience or developed particular expertise in the military to quickly receive the necessary credentials to be qualified for similar work when they return home. Unfortunately, while some action has been initiated on this issue, the Defense Department must move quicker and involve our local workforce system to help our returning veterans obtain jobs," Congressman Tierney said.
The full text of the letter to the Department of Defense can be found below.
Mr. Frank DiGiovanni
Director, Training Readiness and Strategy
Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Readiness)
U.S. Department of Defense
4000 Defense Pentagon, Room 1E537
Washington, D.C. 20301-4000
Dear Mr. DiGiovanni:
Although unemployment among veterans has decreased to 8.9 percent from the July 2011 high of 12.4 percent, it remains at unacceptable levels. We write to you today concerning efforts by the Department of Defense (DOD) to facilitate the transition of veterans to civilian occupations. Specifically, it is our understanding that DOD is currently engaged in multiple efforts to address unnecessary and duplicative credentialing of service members upon re-entry into the civilian workforce. We are supportive of expeditious action on this critical issue; we encourage you to consult and involve the local business-led workforce investment system; and we write today to respectfully inquire as to the status of these efforts.
Section 558 of the FY 2012 NDAA established a pilot program "to assess the feasibility and advisability of permitting enlisted members of the Armed Forces to obtain civilian credentialing or licensing for skills required for military occupational specialties (MOS) or qualification for duty specialty tasks." It is our understanding that DOD has selected five Department of Labor (DOL) standard occupational codes (SOCs) that are aligned with 19 Military Occupational Codes (MOCs). It is also our understanding that funding for the pilot program will come from existing funding within the services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). We respectfully request that you provide us with the following additional information as the planning process is completed:
1. The anticipated number of service members that the pilot program will reach, and any geographic or other planned targeting of participants;
2. The estimated five-year cost of the program and assurances that the program will be fully funded to maximize service member participation;
3. Planned outreach efforts to ensure that both service members and prospective employers are aware of the program;
4. Additional needs to ensure that the program has the greatest possible impact.
It is also our understanding that you are also responsible for coordinating President Obama's Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force (Task Force). We respectfully request that you also provide us with a clear description of the relationship between the Task Force and the pilot program, including:
1. The role of the Task Force, if any, in the development and execution of the pilot program;
2. The coordination, if any, occurring between the Task Force and the pilot program;
3. The degree to which the DOL SOCs targeted by the pilot program overlap with those targeted by the Task Force's efforts;
4. The degree to which administrative responsibilities of the Task Force and the pilot program will be coordinated.
We thank you for your attention and efforts regarding this critical initiative. It is in the best interests of the service members and the country that the pilot program and the Task Force move forward as quickly as possible and appropriately involve our workforce investment system. We believe doing so will help remove unnecessary barriers to civilian employment and reduce unemployment among the nation's veterans.
John F. Tierney
Member of Congress
Member of Congress