Helping Veterans Transition

August 5, 2014

It is always a great privilege to meet the exceptional men and women who have served in the military. I meet these brave people every day, whether I’m running an errand, getting a cup of coffee, or in the office. Given the sacrifices veterans have made to defend our freedom, we owe it to them to make their transition back into civilian life as smooth as possible. A new law in Connecticut—Public Act 14-13—will require state-run agencies and universities to recognize military education and training when hiring. In the course of their service, many veterans accrue skills they can apply to civilian careers. By streamlining regulations, our communities will benefit from ex-servicemen and women’s proven work ethic and expertise.

It has been the case for too long that qualified veterans come back home and find themselves at a disadvantage looking for a job. As it stands now, in order to get certification for certain jobs, they must repeat training they already received in the military. Double instruction is a waste of time and money for everyone involved. This red tape puts veterans, who have already devoted years to serving our country, further behind the rest of us. The new law, effective October 1st, fixes this problem. Now veterans will be able to start their new careers on the same level playing field as everyone else.

Former servicemen and women 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.

Transition back to civilian life is difficult enough, especially 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 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.

Many of us have 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 them. Our veterans are not asking for handouts or special privileges, but they deserve to have their skills professionally recognized. 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.