Tester pushes Defense Department to certify veterans’ employment skills

Senator highlights certification as key obstacle in fighting veterans’ joblessness

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester is pushing the U.S. Department of Defense to help combat high unemployment among veterans by certifying employment skills for outgoing troops.

The Defense Department currently does not officially certify employment skills—such as emergency medical training or use of specialized equipment.  That means many veterans looking for jobs after their separation from service must pay to certify their employment skills, even if they have mastered those skills while on active duty.

Tester noted, for example, that veterans with vast experience operating military vehicles must sometimes wait years for civilian certification to drive commercial trucks.

“One of the greatest challenges facing our nation’s transitioning veterans is gaining the necessary and proper certifications to enter their desired career field once they leave service,” Tester wrote in a letter to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.  “These are highly qualified men and women with unique training and skill sets gained during their military service.  However, because they are unable to apply certifications acquired in the military to the civilian sector once they leave service, many of them remain unemployed.”

Tester highlighted the high jobless rate among the nation’s veterans, adding that the “ability to apply credentials gained in the military to the private sector will allow them to seek employment opportunities without having to recertify.  It will also help to ensure our service members have the most seamless transition possible.”

In a Senate hearing earlier this month, Tester pushed federal officials to take more effective steps to fight high unemployment among the nation’s veterans.  Tester called for:

  • A process for the military to certify certain employment skills for troops
  • A stronger Transition Assistance Program for servicemembers leaving the military
  • Better coordination between federal agencies and private organizations
  • A better strategy for addressing veterans unemployment in rural communities and on reservations

A copy of Tester’s letter to the Department of Defense is available on his website, HERE.

Tester is Montana’s only member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  He 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.