U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) today filed an amendment to the Defense Authorization designed to clear hurdles for returning veterans in search of civilian jobs. The amendment, Helping Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Return to Employment (HIRE) at Home Act, encourages states to consider the training service members receive during active duty when determining eligibility for state licenses and certifications.
"Many veterans have already demonstrated proficiency through military training and experience, and they have done so while performing in a war zone," Pryor said. "Our bipartisan bill would encourage states to consider service members' experience so we can eliminate the expensive and time-consuming hurdles service members often face as they re-enter the workforce."
Johanns, a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, said, "Many of our servicemen and women perform technical jobs like operating heavy machinery or serving as a paramedic, and do so with great skill in a demanding environment. Yet when their tour of duty is complete, they often find they don't meet the certification requirements outlined by state licensing agencies to do the same job at home. Our amendment seeks to do away with this common yet unnecessary hurdle that often stands between veterans and civilian employment. Helping our returning veterans find good jobs here at home is a small gesture of thanks compared to what they have done to protect our freedoms."
The unemployment rate of post-9/11 veterans is 10 percent and more than 15 percent for female veterans -- rates well above the national average -- according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Pryor-Johanns measure will help clear obstacles for veterans who are looking for work as well as provide tailored job searching assistance for returning veterans.
The Department of Defense (DoD) released a report identifying several education and training issues it hopes to resolve, including having military training pre-approved within state credentialing options. HIRE at Home would use existing federal funds available through the Disabled Veterans' Outreach and Local Veterans' Employment Representative programs to coordinate this process between DoD and state agencies.