Doing Our Part to Help Retired Soldiers Find Work

Each year, thousands of our soldiers leave the military to return to civilian life.  What they do next varies tremendously – some retire, some attend universities, and some enter the workforce.  Regardless of their destination, our government owes these selfless individuals the assistance they need to be successful in their next endeavor.

Earlier this year, I introduced legislation to help provide this support – H.R. 5220 Each year, thousands of our soldiers leave the military to return to civilian life. What they do next varies tremendously – some retire, some attend universities, and some enter the workforce. Regardless of their destination, our government owes these selfless individuals the assistance they need to be successful in their next endeavor. , the Veterans’ Certification and Licensure Act.  This legislation, as originally written, would create an advisory committee within the Department of Labor to focus on facilitating the seamless transition of military personnel into civilian employment through licensure and certification programs.  However, after positive feedback from the relevant federal agencies, as well as my colleagues on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, this legislation received some modifications to provide for an actual demonstration project.

Under the demonstration project, the Secretary of the Department of Labor has authorization to select at least ten military occupational specialties that have skill sets similar to civilian occupations in areas of high worker demand or industry growth.  The Secretary will work with each State to identify local requirements for obtaining certifications, credentials, or licenses in areas relevant to these occupations.  Finally, the project will devise strategies to help military personnel overcome any obstacles or burdens created by these requirements.

I am pleased to report that this provision passed the House of Representatives as part of a comprehensive veterans’ benefits bill, S. 3421, on December 8, 2006.  Shortly thereafter, this legislation passed the Senate, and any day now, President Bush will sign this measure into law.

Recently discharged soldiers deserve the thanks of a grateful nation, and helping them find employment is one of our first obligations.  This effort requires a commitment from government, employers, veterans, and ordinary citizens.  It is an honor to have been able to contribute to this goal, and I look forward to working with my colleagues during the 110th Congress to make additional progress.