Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois is one of six states selected for a special program to help those leaving military service attain certification for in-demand civilian careers. The Veterans Licensing and Certification Demonstration Policy Academy, formed by the National Governors Association (NGA), will help selected states create clear pathways for veterans to obtain state-level credentials for certain law enforcement and health care careers. Today's announcement reflects Governor Quinn's and Illinois' leadership to date on making veterans' military training count toward civilian licensure.
"The thousands of heroic men and women who are returning to civilian life have admirably served our nation, and now it's our turn to serve them," Governor Quinn said. "Through our participation in the Policy Academy we will help them to make a smoother transition into full, meaningful employment and to take advantage of all the military training they've received."
Governor Quinn, a member of the National Governors Association, actively lobbied for the selection of Illinois as one of the participating program states.
The National Governors Association selected the states of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin to participate in the Academy. The Illinois Policy Academy team will work to set up "Veteran Bridge Programs" for military medics to earn Licensed Practical Nurse and Emergency Medical Technician licenses and for military police to join civilian police forces. These bridge programs build on the work of Governor Quinn's administration to assess military training against the requirements for state licenses.
"Our Department is honored to spearhead the veteran licensure effort in Illinois," Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Erica Borggren said. "Illinois' selection by the NGA will add focus, expertise, and funding to the massive interagency effort we have underway to assess military training and make it count for our veterans."
By streamlining the licensing process for veterans in these fields, the selected states will work to reduce the number of unemployment insurance claims and the length of time for which veterans draw benefits. They will also study ways to reduce costs associated with veterans receiving credentials. Participating states will receive guidance and technical assistance from NGA staff and faculty experts, as well as consultants from the private sector, research organizations and academia.
Under Governor Quinn's leadership, Illinois has already enacted several executive orders and public acts to help veterans and military personnel in this regard. On February 6, 2013 Governor Quinn issued Executive Order 13-02 that tasks state agencies to identify overlaps and gaps between military training and state licenses, and to propose recommendations by which assessment processes can be implemented that allow such training and education to be considered for purposes of state licensure requirements.
Later in 2013 he signed:
House Bill 2563, which allows members of the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves and Illinois National Guard who have at least two years experience operating a military motor vehicle to bypass the state skills test in applying for a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). Sponsored by State Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-Sycamore) and State Sen. Tony Muñoz (D-Chicago), the new law will help address a shortage of CDL drivers across the nation and provide an additional career path for service members.
House Bill 3186 recognizes members of the armed forces, Reserves and Illinois National Guard's military training and clinical experience when applying to be an EMT. The bill also waives the application fee for all Illinois State Troopers or members of the Illinois National Guard who volunteer as an EMT in a municipality with a population of 5,000 or fewer. Supported by the State's Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council, the new law will help create more EMTs in underserved areas and throughout Illinois.
Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation's governors and one of Washington, D.C.'s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 55 states, territories and commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit www.nga.org.