JOSEPH C. SHARPE, JR., DIRECTOR
NATIONAL ECONOMIC COMMISSION
THE AMERICAN LEGION
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
LICENSURE AND CREDENTIALING
JULY 29, 2010
Madame Chairwoman, Ranking Member Boozman and distinguished members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to submit the views of The American Legion regarding "Licensure and Credentialing."
The American Legion asserts that veterans have been trained, educated, disciplined, and molded by the greatest military in the world, and yet a large number of these skills are deemed non-applicable in the civilian sector. The American Legion understands that veterans have attributes to make them extremely productive in the civilian sector. These attributes include an accelerated learning curve, leadership, teamwork, diversity and inclusion in action, efficient performance under pressure, respect for procedures, technology and globalization, integrity, consciousness of health and safety standards, and the ability to triumph over adversity.
With all of these abilities, a casual observer would assume that veterans are easily employed and can transition their military experience to the private sector with ease. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
There are several problems that exist for service members translating their skills to the private sector: service members might not know the credentialing requirements of their military specialty; credentialing boards are unaware of the comparability of military education, training and experience to the civilian sector or do not recognize military specific-training education, training and experience. The solution to this problem is through proper information dissemination by military leaders on civilian licensing and certifications, along with developing marketing campaigns to make civilian credentialing boards aware of transferable military skills and the quality of military education, training and experience. Another suggestion is that credentialing agencies could develop military-specific credential requirements that recognize equivalent military training. Some universities and colleges take note of military training and grant college credits to veterans based on the amount of training they underwent. This could apply to credentialing as well.
Another barrier is the cost of training to fill the disparities between military training and civilian training. In order to fill these gaps, service members should have constant access to financial and training resources while they are still serving. Another means to filling this gap is by allowing vocational training to be accessed using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The current law only allows Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients to attend classes at degree granting institutions. The American Legion's position is to allow vocational, apprenticeship, flight training and on-the-job training programs be included in the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 allowed for vocational training with a significant amount of veterans taking advantage of this benefit. The men and women who served in harm's way should be entitled to a benefit that fits their personal needs.
The Department of Defense (DoD) provides some of the best vocational training in the nation for its military personnel and establishes, measures and evaluates performance standards for every occupation with the armed forces. There are many occupational career fields in the armed forces that can easily translate to a civilian counterpart; additionally, there are many occupations in the civilian workforce that require a license or certification.
In the armed forces, these unique occupations are performed to approved military standards that may meet or exceed the civilian license or certification criteria. Upon separation, however, many service members, certified as proficient in their military occupational career, are not licensed or certified to perform the comparable job in the civilian workforce, thus hindering chances for immediate civilian employment and delaying career advancement. This situation creates an artificial barrier to employment upon separation from military service. Military Occupation Specialties (MOS) or ratings such as motor transport, corpsman or medic, need to undergo additional training, once out of the service, to work in their career path. This process slows down the veteran in obtaining gainful employment.
A study by the Presidential Commission on Servicemembers' and Veterans' Transition Assistance identified a total of 105 military professions where civilian credentialing is required.
Military transcripts provided from each of the Armed Forces provide a very limited training and education record and at times incorrect, missing, or additional information is listed. The Army Training Requirements and Resource System (ATRRS), Navy's Sailor Marine American Council of Education (ACE) Registry Transcript (SMART), and the Air Force Institute of Advanced Distributed Learning (AFIADL) are all accepted by the American Council on Education.
For example, National Guardsman and Reservists, many of them infantry, have enormous talents, skills, and attributes that they have used while in theater. However, because the tasks they performed are so unique and difficult to succinctly describe, they are left with an empty shell of a resume.
When transitioning from military to civilian careers, many servicemembers can only list 11 B, Infantryman. It would be more advantageous if they can write 11 B, Infantryman, chief advisor to mayor of Iraqi town, facilitator of incubator maintenance at local hospital, and more specified individual tasks. These OIF/OEF veterans have performed duties that could fall in line with many civilian professions. If a system could be devised to translate the full nature of a service member's skills and abilities, as opposed to only listing a military occupation code, individual veterans would be positively affected.
There are so many websites for servicemembers and veterans to visit that it can become extremely confusing and complex. The Army and Navy COOL (Credentialing Opportunities Online) websites are excellent tools for potential recruits, current service members, and transitioning veterans to use. The Air Force Personnel Center is also a useful tool. The Career One Stop and the Operational Information Network Online, or O*Net, both operated by the Department of Labor, are more helpful tools.
These sites should be made easily accessible at all recruitment and transitioning stations. However, for those individuals who are constrained for time, have limited web access, are deployed overseas, and those with poor internet savvy, these websites are just not enough. The American Legion recommends more access of licensing and credentialing services at TAP sites.
ACCESS AT TRANSITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FACILITIES
The American Legion observes that transition assistance modules are excellent avenues for each individual U.S. state to access transitioning servicemembers. The American Legion supports mandatory TAP for transition servicemembers at least 180 days prior to the end of their contractual obligation. When servicemembers are at these TAP sites around the country, each state work force agency or credentialing board can provide important information.
Better coordination, communication and interaction of credentialing boards and the training commands of each of our nation's armed forces are needed. Furthermore, military trainers, doctrine writers, and evaluation tests for military skills should coordinate with their civilian counterparts and attempt to synchronize military tests with their civilian counterparts.
The majority of the onus and responsibility is on the veteran to contact authorization boards to ascertain what they will require to be successful in the profession that they choose. However, these boards should have two-way communication so that the onus is not completely on the veteran, especially in a time of war when they are focusing on their immediate tasks.
The Council of Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation has a database of national approving boards. Listed below are selected members of this national database. Each TAP site should coordinate with at least the following boards to have a representative participate. Additionally, each U.S. state regulatory board should also coordinate with TAP personnel and brief on transitioning servicemembers the unique relevant requirements needed for certification.
• National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)
• National Council for Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB)
• The Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB)
• National Association of State Contractor Licensing Agencies (NASCLA)
• American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB)
• National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE)
• National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying
• International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards
• National Association of Insurance Commissioners
• Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards
• National Association of Boards of Examiners of Long Term Care Administrators
• Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards
• The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB)
• National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
• Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO)
• National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)
• The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT)
• Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
• The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO)
• Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
• American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB)
Websites and online interaction are great tools but nothing can replace personal interaction. Personal visits by representatives of national and state boards at TAP sites and training commands can assist the transfer of military licensing and certification. At a minimum, these boards can provide a pamphlet or information sheet to put into a veteran's hand.
With over 2 million service members having served in Iraq or Afghanistan, TAP and other transition programs need to be modernized to give relevant guidance and training to all transitioning service members and their families. The American Legion supports efforts to eliminate employment barriers that impede the transfer of military job skills to the civilian labor market. We also support efforts that require DOD take appropriate steps to ensure that service members be trained, tested, evaluated and issued any licensure or certification that may be required in the civilian workforce prior to separation. The American Legion supports efforts to increase the civilian labor market's acceptance of the occupational training provided by the military.
There have been estimates that approximately 60% of the workforce will retire by 2020 and competent, educated, and capable individuals must replace the workforce in order to assure the United States retains its competitive edge in the world. The veterans of this nation make up a well-qualified disciplined pool of applicants. Increasing recognition of military training by integrating licensing and credentialing must be strengthened to assist our country's finest to achieve their professional goals.
Again, thank you Madame Chairwoman, Ranking Member Boozman and distinguished members of the Committee for allowing The American Legion to present our views on this very important matter.