Service members and veterans are more than prepared to transition into civilian employment, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
Following the release today of a report by the Executive Office of the President titled "The Fast Track to Civilian Employment: Streamlining Credentialing and Licensing for Service Members, Veterans and their Spouses," Marine Corps Sgt. Major Bryan B. Battaglia told reporters in a conference call with White House officials that the skills, dedication and discipline conferred by military service makes veterans an asset to any civilian employer.
In February 2012, only 11 states had legislation intended to assist military spouses in transferring their licenses or certifications when they moved to a new state, said Tina Tchen, chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama. In part due to the efforts of the "Joining Forces" initiative championed by the first lady and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden -- along with the president's military credentialing and licensing task force, 28 states now have such legislation, she said, and more are working toward that goal.
The first lady and Dr.l Biden spoke today to the National Governors Association and called on them to help service members and their spouses and the nation's veterans by making it easier for them to translate their military skills and training into state certificates and licenses.
For now, the task is to build upon existing success by reforming the state regulatory systems around health care and transportation professions to make it easier for veterans and service members to transfer their military training, Tchen said.
The administration's goal is for all 50 states to have taken legislative or executive action by the end of 2015 to help service members and veterans get the credentials they need, she added.
Service members have the skills that civilian employers need, Battaglia said. "Our service men and women are some of the most highly trained, innovative, resilient [and] adaptable ... individuals that our country has to offer."
Those troops enlisted in large part while the United States was at war, he said, but now, due to the drawdowns from Iraq and Afghanistan, increasing numbers of service members are separating.
"In addition to the 34,000 troops coming home from Afghanistan, ... over the next several years we expect as many as a million service members to return to civilian life," Tchen said.
As activity overseas declines, America's commitment to veterans, service members and their families must ramp up, she continued. "We owe it to them to make sure ... they have jobs -- and good jobs that they can support their families on."
The transition program for service members separating from military service was completely overhauled recently, Battaglia said, adding that he's now confident that service members are far better prepared to return to civilian life than they were when he was a young Marine.
"Our men and women transitioning from the military are looking for a fair shot," he said. "Most leave the military with some invaluable skills, and they have used those skills. ... I've seen them do it on a battlefield with my own eyes."
With the support of the American people, he added, their transition back into the civilian workforce will make a difference.
"These are 21st century veterans," Battaglia said, who will help America shape and rebuild a strong economy.