U.S. Representative Denny Heck of Washington state has introduced a bill to address the certification gap that many transitioning service members experience once they leave the military and enter the civilian job market. The Collaborating for Economic Reintegration of Troops (CERT) Act would establish a commission to develop new, uniform licensing and certification standards for high-demand occupations. This comes on the same day that Third Way released a report, “Operation Certification: Helping Vets Succeed in the New Economy,” detailing the challenges troops face when entering the civilian job market and looking for a position in the same field as their military training.
This issue was addressed in a Daily Show with Jon Stewart segment in 2012.
“When I ran a small business, we hired a veteran every chance we could. They bring with them the skills, intelligence, and expertise, along with an incredible work ethic to match. To make these talented veterans go back to school or train again after they have already learned the trade in the military is not what our economy needs,” Heck said. “We need to fix this so transitioning service members report to work instead of going back to square one for something they’ve already mastered during their military service.”
The CERT Act is the first step to provide service members a smoother transition into civilian careers by creating a commission to develop uniform licensing and certification standards for high-demand occupations. This Commission will report on how a “Blue Star Certification” could allow for members of the military to directly and immediately apply their training and experience to the private sector. States which adopt the Blue Star credential will attract and retain talented and civic-minded veterans.
As many as 80 percent of servicemembers leave the military without a civilian occupation, while one in four reported being underemployed and earning below-poverty wages. Military training correlates to 962 civilian professions, including health care, electrical repair and vehicle mechanics.