President Barack Obama drops by a veterans service organizations meeting, co-hosted by National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Peter Gaytan, executive director of the Legion’s D.C. office, attended the meeting. White House photo

Veterans employment issues on the table

Calling the current administration's efforts to address their issues "unprecedented", the executive director of The American Legion D.C. Office, Peter Gaytan, visited The White House this week for a discussion of the challenges facing military veterans. The hour-long session, joined by President Barack Obama, was led by National Security Advisor James Jones and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. Both emphasized the importance of attending to veterans affairs in the context of national security.

Gaytan echoed the president's expressed concern about unemployment among young returnees from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gaytan pointed to the obstacles to quickly and successfully transitioning from military service to the workforce caused by civilian licensing and certification requirements. These requisites, said Gaytan, are often met easily by the completion of military training and subsequent service, but credit for such schooling and experience is not awarded by licensing and certification authorities. According to Gaytan, understanding and recognition of the nature and value of military occupational training and service, and its transferability to civilian requirements, would greatly benefit both veterans and employers. The White House discussion was attended by members of the administration's domestic policy, national security and cabinet affairs staffs, as well as the offices of First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Besides Gaytan, representatives of several other veterans' service organizations joined the group. Gaytan notes that The White House employs seven staff members devoted to the study of veterans issues. This attention, he says, is "unprecedented."