U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns and Mark Pryor filed an amendment Tuesday for the Defense Authorization which is designed to make it easier for returning veterans to find civilian jobs.
The amendment, Helping Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Return to Employment at Home Act, encourages states to consider the training service members receive during active duty when determining eligibility for state licenses and certifications.
Johanns is a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee and believes many service men and women have the necessary skills for civilian jobs.
He said, "Many of our servicemen and women perform technical jobs like operating heavy machinery or serving as a paramedic, and do so with great skill in a demanding environment. Yet when their tour of duty is complete, they often find they don't meet the certification requirements outlined by state licensing agencies to do the same job at home.
"Our amendment seeks to do away with this common yet unnecessary hurdle that often stands between veterans and civilian employment. Helping our returning veterans find good jobs here at home is a small gesture of thanks compared to what they have done to protect our freedoms."
Pryor added, "Many veterans have already demonstrated proficiency through military training and experience, and they have done so while performing in a war zone. Our bipartisan bill would encourage states to consider service members' experience so we can eliminate the expensive and time-consuming hurdles service members often face as they re-enter the workforce."
The unemployment rate among veterans is well above the national average with post-9/11 veterans at 10 percent unemployment. That number is even higher for female veterans, whose number hits 15 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Johanns-Pryor measure is supposed to help provide tailored job searching tools for returning veterans.
The Department of Defense has released a report identifying several education and training issues it hopes to resolve, including having military training pre-approved within state credentialing options.
HIRE at Home would use existing federal funds available through the Disabled Veterans' Outreach and Local Veterans' Employment Representative programs to coordinate this process between DoD and state agencies.