Date: February 25, 2013
Lani Poblete at 202-416-7667
Washington, DC—Paralyzed Veterans of America is applauding efforts made by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, calling on our nation’s governors to do their part in putting America’s heroes back to work.
Mrs. Obama is urging the passage of legislation or executive action that would allow veterans to receive professional credentials or licenses based on their experiences in the military. This would in turn allow veterans to apply for jobs more quickly rather than having to take courses for skills they already have.
Paralyzed Veterans’ associate executive director of veterans benefits Sherman Gillums expressed his optimism after hearing about the First Lady’s new effort, saying “Many of the veterans we’re helping through our PAVE Program (Paving Access For Veterans Employment) possess special skills that have been tested under fire,” he said. “For those who meet, even exceed, credentialing requirements, like the many corpsman and airfield specialists with whom I’ve served, receiving state and federal credit for their work in service means less time spent in an unemployment line after service.”
The First Lady and Dr. Biden’s efforts build on President Obama’s June 2012 announcement of the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force – setting a goal that by the end of 2015, all 50 states will have taken legislative or executive action to help our troops get the credentials they need to successfully transition to the civilian labor market.
Prior to the passage of the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act last year, a trained, battle-tested combat medic who saved lives in Afghanistan could find work as an EMT or first responder—only after obtaining credentials that satisfied federal credentialing requirements. The new law granted service members with the credits necessary to satisfy education and experience requirements needed to work in professions like logistics, aviation, and health care.
The new focus on state-level credentialing for military skills will target key industries such as health care, transportation, logistics, and machining, as well as help more veterans acquire careers as first responders. To date, 27 states have passed some form of legislation, and 16 others have active legislation in process. In addition to helping veterans translate military skills, the White House plans to expand education opportunities that build on military skills and help make licenses and credentials more transferrable for military spouses who must move to different states.
“At the end of the day, we know that holding a license or certification offers a 15-18% wage premium for job seekers. But a marine, sailor, or soldier should not have to exhaust his GI Bill benefits or undergo training that he or she already acquired in service in order to compete in a tough job market,” Gillums said. “Our military trained and invested in these men and women, and they’ve already proven their worth.”
More than 60,000 service members are due to return from Afghanistan in the next two years, many of which will join the 250,000 unemployed veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded in the mid-1940s by a group of spinal cord injured American heroes of World War II. They created a non-profit organization to meet the challenges they faced then — from a medical community not ready to treat them to an environment with many barriers for people who use wheelchairs. Today, Paralyzed Veterans’ national office and our 34 chapters continue the fight to make America a better place for all veterans and people with disabilities. (www.pva.org)