New State Laws Could Help 783,000 Jobless Veterans

Contrary to popular belief, the veterans’ unemployment crisis is far from over.

As of March 2013, approximately 783,000 veterans were unemployed–an unacceptable 20.4 percent. A survey by Prudential and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found a majority of these encountered difficulty when translating military skills into civilian job experience, but only 66 percent received employment assistance in the transition. Amid the struggle, licensing law hassles have only contributed to these rates by requiring veterans and their spouses to be re-certified when being relocated; however, many states are now taking action to address this concern in a nationwide “Joining Forces” initiative.

O'Malley Veteran Unemployment

Governor O’Malley oversees discussion regarding the Veterans Full Employment Act 2013.

Though Joining Forces’ Executive Director Brad Cooper says the issue of licensing portability certainly isn’t new, this does follow a trend originally aimed toward military spouses. The Military Spouse License Portability Act was introduced in Pennsylvania in February 2013 in an effort to join 27 other states with similar legislation, and allows military spouses to more efficiently transfer professional licenses when relocating. As support for the effort more than doubled over the span of a few short months, the focus was then shifted onto the veterans themselves.

On April 17, 2013, Maryland joined 12 other states in pursuit of streamlining the professional licensing experience by signing into law the Veterans Full Employment Act. In making the process more efficient, Maryland officials and Governor Martin O’Malley aim to achieve full employment for Maryland veterans by 2015.

“Any veteran who puts on a uniform for our country, puts himself in harms way, puts their life on the line for us, should not come home and face barriers to employment, often times erected by their own state’s bureaucracy,” O’Malley told the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

While veterans like Petty Officer 1st Class Augustine Kanu commend the support, some still regard the restorative revolution as incomplete. Kanu, who is currently based at Naval Station Great Lakes, has high hopes for the efforts to soon effect college course credits amid moves as well. “Every time I move, I have to almost start all over,” Kanu told the Associated Press. Although the initiative also claims to address issues with education such as Kanu’s, it is unclear whether states will take additional action any time soon.

Photo courtesy MDGovPics