Helping Veterans Transition

July 30, 2014

Article as it appeared in the Bristol Press

In the course of their service, veterans accrue skills they can apply to civilian careers. A new law in Connecticut—Public Act 14-13—will require state-run agencies and universities to recognize military education and training when hiring.

Right now, in a competitive job market, qualified ex-servicemen and women are at a disadvantage. In order to get certification for certain jobs, they must repeat training they already received in the military. Double instruction is a redundant waste of time and money for everyone. This red tape puts veterans, who have already devoted years to serving our country, further behind their civilian neighbors. The new law, effective October 1st, fixes this problem. Now these brave men and women will be able to start their new careers on the same level playing field as everyone else.

Veterans who performed specialized tasks while in the course of duty—driving heavy trucks, working as mechanics, electricians, etc.—will have their experience counted towards accreditation for related civilian jobs. In other words, veterans looking to obtain a trade certificate will be able to skip the classes covering material they already learned in the military.

Additionally, colleges and universities in Connecticut will begin awarding academic credit for military education. Veterans can use these credits to obtain a college degree.

As a non-combat veteran myself, I understand what it means to have to catch up after discharge. I cannot imagine how difficult the transition must be for a veteran returning home from a war zone—which is often the case today. That is why I supported this bill, which was recommended to the legislature by a specialized task force commissioned last year. The task force conducted a detailed study of similar laws designed already in force in other states. Now Connecticut is up to pace with the rest of the country helping veterans find quality, long-term employment. Also, the new law contains a provision requiring the state to keep track of the legislation’s effectiveness over time.

Every one of us has friends, family members, and neighbors who served in the military. We all sympathize with how difficult the switch from military to civilian life is for these brave people. Our veterans are not asking for handouts or special privileges, but they deserve to have their skills professionally recognized. Streamlining regulations is a small thing we did this year to help the people who have sacrificed so much for all of us. With so many heavy industry and defense contractors in this state, highly skilled veterans with the proper qualifications are in demand.

It should always be the goal of the legislature to make Connecticut a national leader on veterans’ issues. These matters always demand the utmost attention. This year, on this issue, the state did its job.