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The number of veterans receiving unemployment benefits has more than doubled since 2002.
Sen. Tim Kaine
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
For veterans, winning recognition from potential employers for skills they learned in the service is a huge challenge, Sen. Tim Kaine said during a recent stop at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem.
So his first piece of legislation as Virginia’s junior senator aims to tackle that problem.
“Our nation’s service members learn and specialize in critical skills while on active duty that more than prepare them for a wide range of employment in the civilian workforce,” Kaine said Tuesday.
“Too often, these service members and veterans face unnecessary hurdles in acquiring the formal certifications, licenses or education they need to perform the same duties outside of the military,” Kaine added.
Kaine highlighted credentials as a hurdle many veterans face during a February visit to the VA Medical Center.
He stopped in Salem to explore the facility’s innovative efforts to help veterans make the transition to civilian work.
“Senator Kaine’s trip to visit the VA facility in Salem and his conversations at other roundtables with veterans he has hosted in the Roanoke area were integral to developing this bill,” a spokeswoman said.
“Veterans have high-level skills that can boost their employment when they return home, but they need a certification or license to easily translate these specialties to civilian employers,” she added.
Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan currently have a 9.4 percent unemployment rate; the national rate is 7.7 percent . Veterans’ joblessness has been rising, too — the number of veterans receiving unemployment benefits has more than doubled since 2002, rising from 44,810 to 89,725 in 2012.
Kaine’s bill asks the Defense Department to give military men and women more information about how their military training could earn them credentials they need for civilian jobs.
It encourages the department to give credentialing groups information they can use to see if military training entitles veterans to civilian credentials.
It would re-establish a committee at the Department of Veterans Affairs that oversaw courses and programs promising veterans civilian credentials, to ensure they were doing so effectively and honestly.
It would also expand he current Department of Defense Pilot Program on credentialing.
“This is common-sense legislation that helps to close the licensing and credentialing gap many of our veterans face,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars Executive Director Bob Wallace.
The bill “will benefit not only the service member, but those who eventually employ him or her in the civilian work world,” said American Legion National Commander James Koutz.
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