With the unemployment rate among post 9/11 veterans exceeding 12 percent, the head of the nation's largest veterans organization welcomed a recommendation from an influential board that the Department of Defense make it easier to certify troops for civilian careers based on their military skills and training.
"The American Legion has long championed this issue," said American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong. "It makes no sense for someone who serves as an air traffic controller, a combat medic, military police officer or any of the hundreds of other diverse jobs offered by our armed forces to be told that they don't have the credentials to be performing in these fields in civilian society. We have a magnificent military because of these people. We can all benefit from their skills. Let's remove any unnecessary barriers."
The Defense Business Board, a Pentagon advisory group, recently recommended that the military help provide troops with civilian licensing and certification while they obtain their military training. The American Legion has been making similar recommendations for more than 15 years. In 1996, Legion officials met with the Department of Labor to discuss the issue, which led to numerous policy proposals and resolutions passed by The American Legion. Most recently, at its 2010 National Convention in Milwaukee, American Legion delegates unanimously passed a resolution that called on DoD to "ensure that servicemembers be trained, tested, evaluated and obtain any licensure or certification that may be required in the local civilian workforce..."
Moreover, The American Legion helped craft and introduce bills currently being considered by Congress. The Veterans Skills Work Act (S. 2239 and H.R. 4155) would streamline the credentialing process for servicemembers by removing some of the bureaucracies and allowing military training to become the equivalent of federal licensing and certification processes.
"Congress should swiftly pass the Veterans Skills Work Act," Wong added. "But more must be done on the local level as well. Shouldn't a military professor who taught English at Annapolis or West Point be certified to teach at your local public high school? The business community – both small and large – can greatly benefit from the skills, experience and work ethic that these military veterans have to offer. They have successfully defended us from our enemies. Let's defend them from bureaucratic red tape."
With a current membership of 2.4-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.
Media contacts: John Raughter, 317-630-1253, cell 317-441-8847 or Craig Roberts, 202-263-2982, cell 202-406-0887.