Today U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Troop Talent Act of 2013. The bipartisan bill will help ease the transition of servicemembers from active duty to the civilian workforce by improving the alignment of specialty skills acquired in the military with civilian credentials or licenses required for post-service employment.
The Troop Talent Act is Kaine's first bill in the U.S. Senate. Last week, Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee, made stops across the Commonwealth to speak with veterans, military personnel, and members of the business community about the bill, outlining how it will expand existing efforts to meet current workforce demands and match veterans' skills with growth industries. As of February 2013, the veteran unemployment rate among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was 9.4%, up from 7.6% in 2012. The number of veterans receiving unemployment benefits has more than doubled since 2002, rising from 44,810 to 89,725 in 2012.
"I am proud to introduce my first bill with Senator Chambliss and Senator Baucus, underscoring the strong bipartisan support for our nation's returning veterans and a shared belief in their talents," Kaine said. "I look forward to working with members of both parties to address these persistent barriers to veterans' employment and on other measures that will help ease the transition of our servicemembers to the civilian workforce."
Chambliss, also a member of the Armed Services Committee, has been an outspoken advocate for military personnel, recently voting for provisions in the Senate budget resolution that enhance benefits. Among these are increased education and employment-training opportunities; improved reporting systems for suicide prevention; superior healthcare coverage for servicemembers and their children; and better military family housing and support programs to ease the transition of troops back into civilian life.
"Our nation has no higher obligation than providing for the men and women who have served and sacrificed in the defense of our country. This legislation will smooth the transition from military to civilian life so our troops can take their talents into the workforce and continue to contribute to America's greatness," said Chambliss.
In addition to providing more information to servicemembers throughout their military careers about the path to earning a civilian credential, the Troop Talent Act will expand existing efforts to meet current workforce demands and match the skills of servicemembers with growth industries, as well as implement rigorous standards to ensure credentials translate into the private sector.
The Troop Talent Act has already received praise from editorial boards and veterans' groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, IAVA, and the American Legion.
FACT SHEET: Troop Talent Act of 2013
Background:The Troop Talent Act of 2013 will help ease the transition of servicemembers from active duty to the civilian workforce by improving the alignment of specialty skills acquired in the military with civilian credentials or licenses required for post-service employment, expanding existing efforts to meet current workforce demands and match the skills of servicemembers with growth industries, and implementing rigorous standards to ensure credentials translate into the private sector.
With the unemployment rate among recent Iraq and Afghanistan veterans higher than the national average and the number of veterans receiving unemployment benefits doubling since 2002, Senator Kaine has heard from servicemembers and veterans about the need to do more to match the professional skills they acquire as part of their military occupational specialty technical training with jobs in the civilian workforce.
The Troop Talent Act of 2013 would:
Improve translation of military skillsets to civilian credentials or licensesby providing more information to servicemembers -- early and often -- throughout their military careers about the path to earning a civilian credential to match their military occupational specialty training. It would also encourage the Department of Defense to, where appropriate, provide more information about military training and curricula to organizations involved with the credentialing process that will help them better account for military training in the awarding of credentials.
Prevent credential fraudby establishing strict standards for courses or programs that guarantee a credential after successful completion. It would also reestablish a committee at the Department of Veterans Affairs that provides oversight of the credentialing process to ensure servicemembers and taxpayers are getting the highest return on their investment.
Increase access to high-demand career fields for servicemembersby expanding the current Department of Defense Pilot Program on credentialing to include the field of information technology and matching the skills of servicemembers with one of the fastest-growing industries.