I’m deeply frustrated at the lack of progress in getting military medical and transportation professionals civilian jobs in their fields. It’s no secret that lacking civilian credentials often deters qualified veterans from getting jobs they’re well trained to do. Stories abound of vets who drove trucks in Afghanistan but can’t get a job driving big rigs on U.S. highways – or combat medics who have treated the most difficult combat wounds imaginable but cannot get a paramedic job back home.
Legislation, such as the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, attempted to address the issue by streamlining credentialing requirements. So did several public-private partnerships, such as those associated with the Department of Defense Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force.
But medical certifications pose unique challenges because individual states stipulate requirements. Federal legislation’s ability to address the issue is limited by a maze of state-specific rules. And for whatever reason, many states have not made this a priority. States have had as many years to fix this injustice as it took America to both build the atomic bomb and land on the moon.
The great irony is that the health care system needs these trained veterans – badly. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts health care will add 5 million jobs by 2022. The EMTs and paramedics field is poised to grow by a whopping 23 percent between 2012 and 2022. Health care needs manpower; veterans need jobs.
Encouraged by federal initiatives, some states have made progress on this front. Indiana and Kentucky now have laws that make it easier for veterans to become EMTs. Seven other states have streamlined both EMT and nursing license processes. Federal legislation that offers financial incentives to states that streamline these programs passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February 2013.
But too many states, and too many veterans, still need reform. It’s been more than a year since the president’s The Fast Track to Civilian Employment was issued. This track is still moving way too slowly.
This issue is non-partisan, pro-jobs and pro-veterans ; it’s something we can all agree upon. So I’d like to see public officials, task forces and public-private partnerships ratchet up their efforts. With hundreds of thousands of service members leaving the service, we can’t waste time with bureaucratic regulations that keep qualified veterans from getting jobs in industries that needs them.