Tester introduces Hiring Heroes Act to fight veterans’ unemployment

Senator cites experienced Montana Army engineer, rejected for civilian engineering license

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today introduced the Hiring Heroes Act, a bill to combat high unemployment among the nation’s veterans through job skills training, certification and improved federal hiring practices.

Tester introduced the bipartisan bill after hearing from former U.S. Army Captain Nathan Wiens of Great Falls, Mont.  Wiens attended Montana State University on an ROTC scholarship, graduated with a civil engineering degree and spent nearly five years in the U.S. Army as an engineer officer—including a deployment to Iraq where his company cleared roads of improvised explosive devices.

After his return home, Wiens’ application for a license as a certified engineer was rejected by the Montana Board of Professional Engineers because his experience as an Army engineer technically did not qualify him for civilian certification.

“When I got my engineering degree through ROTC at MSU and then served in the Army for five years, I never imagined that I would have a hard time becoming a Professional Engineer in Montana,” Wiens said.  “I asked for Senator Tester’s help and now he is introducing a bill to fix this problem. I appreciate his leadership and his strong support for veterans like me.”

Tester’s Hiring Heroes Act would require the federal government to establish a system for certifying certain employment skills gained during active military service—improving veterans’ ability to market themselves for employment and assisting with transition to civilian jobs.

“We have a responsibility to empower America’s veterans with the tools they need to find good-paying jobs after they put their lives on the line for our freedoms,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  “This legislation eases the transition between military service and the civilian workforce, setting Montana’s veterans up for success.  They deserve no less.”

Tester noted that the unemployment rate among veterans in Montana has more than doubled since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

The Hiring Heroes Act would, for the first time, require broad job skills training for all service members returning home.  The bill would also allow the federal government to immediately hire veterans leaving service, so more service members have jobs waiting for them the day they leave military service.

A copy of the bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Senator Max Baucus, is available on Tester’s website, HERE.

Tester recently hosted a jobs and opportunity workshop for Montana’s veterans—one of several workshops he has organized across the state to continue creating jobs and strengthening the state’s small businesses.