Focusing on Licenses for Veterans and Military Families

Over the past few weeks, I have had the wonderful privilege of traveling with the First Lady and Dr. Biden around the country, and we've felt the tremendous outpouring of support for our military families. In the coming weeks we will continue to build on the Joining Forces initiative by focusing on employment, education, and wellness.

As the First Lady recently highlighted in her U.S. News Op-Ed, veterans and military spouses are not always the highest priority for employers when it comes to filling an open position--even though they are among the strongest, most resilient candidates in the talent pool. To address this disparity, we are working on a number of initiatives that increase job training opportunities and ease licensing reqirements for veterans and military spouses.

Focusing on Jobs for Veterans and Military Families:

  • In response to the President's challenge to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans and military spouses by 2013, companies such as Siemens, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin and Accenture have committed to facilitate the transition of service members from military to civilian life. In addition, JP Morgan Chase has committed $7.5 million to provide seed funding for the creation and launch of a “first-of-its-kind” Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.
  • The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) between the Department of Defense and 72 Fortune 500 companies is off to a great start. Of equal importance, a significant number of companies have committed to retaining our military spouses within the same company after their husband or wife’s move.
  • Chamber of Commerce Hiring Fairs: Back in April, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce committed to 100 hiring fairs throughout the nation in the next year – these hiring fairs are dedicated to veterans and military spouses. The Chamber has already conducted 15 hiring fairs -- including one in Los Angeles with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge -- with more than 15,000 veterans and military spouses participating. As of last week, they have up’d the ante – they will also call on their federation of 2,500 state and local chambers and industry associations and more than 3 million businesses to significantly expand the scale and scope of their nationwide hiring campaign -- to several hundred additional cities in 2012 and beyond!

Licensing Help for Military Spouses: I had the opportunity to talk to the Council of Governors about this issue last month in Salt Lake City – the Council supports legislation to expand state coverage. The First Lady also addressed this issue in a recent trip to New Hampshire and we are teaming with the great efforts that DoD and our many Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) have been undertaking for years. As a bottom-line, we’re paying attention to this issue and are encouraging state leaders to make it easier for military spouses to transfer their licenses between states. The goal here is for all 50 states to hear this message – and take action – to make your transitions easier.

Licensing and Credentialing Help for Transitioning Service Members: Only 4 of 50 states have enacted legislation that facilitates the crediting of military education, training and experience toward the licensing requirements in an equivalent civilian occupation. The Department of Defense is working hard on behalf of Service members and Veterans to expand state support.

Brad Cooper is Executive Director of Joining Forces in the Office of the First Lady.

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