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Military jobs act

Legislation to help soldiers transition to civilian market

Photo credit: Staff Sgt. JoAnn S. Makinano

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The Collaborating for Economic Reintegration of Troops (CERT) Act is designed to equalize military training and civilian licenses or certifications for skilled careers as one in the same.

"The act would establish a commission to develop new, uniform licensing and certification standards for high-demand occupations," read a Sept. 29 press release from Representative Denny Heck's office. "When I ran a small business, we hired a veteran every chance we could. They bring with them the skills, intelligence and expertise, along with an incredible work ethic to match. To make these talented veterans go back to school or train again after they have already learned the trade in the military is not what our economy needs."

Heck, a Democrat representing Washington state's 10th Congressional District, recently introduced the legislation.

The CERT Act is a step toward providing servicemembers a smoother transition into civilian careers by creating a commission to develop uniform licensing and certification standards for high-demand occupations.

Third Way, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy think tank, recently released "Operation Certification: Helping Vets Succeed in the New Economy," a report which details the challenges soldiers face when entering the civilian job market and looking for a position in the same field as their military training.

But a disconnect exists between the training soldiers receive and their ability to transition into a comparable civilian job.

For example, take combat medicine.

A combat medic receives high-quality medical training in order to treat wounded soldiers.  This is a skill set that, logically, is readily applicable to the civilian job market.

Or is it?

Experienced combat medics, and other highly trained servicemembers, have found that although their experience and training exceeds that of their civilian counterparts, they do not get hired unless they spend the time and money to retrain in a field they have already been trained in.

"This disconnect between servicemembers' experience and what they bring to the civilian job market," Heck said during a radio interview on KOMO, "is a waste of the taxpayer's money."

Heck said that Congress needs to fix the issue so transitioning servicemembers can report to work instead of going back to square one for something they've already mastered during their military service.

It is estimated that 250,000 servicemembers will transition from the military to civilian life over the next several years.

Military training correlates to 962 civilian professions, to include healthcare, electrical repair and vehicle mechanic.

This influx of skilled labor presents a new opportunity to grow the economy and the middle class.

For more information, go to dennyheck.house.gov or call 202.226.4027.

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