Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is hoping to straighten the path for hundreds of veterans who served as medics, truck drivers, plumbers and many other professions in the military only to be told, once they get home, that they need to start from square one.
Malloy signed an order Monday that streamlines the process for getting an occupational license, certificate or college credit for Connecticut’s 250,000 veterans and the 6,000 to 8,000 state residents who are serving now.
“These are people with special training, skills, and education who, upon returning to civilian life, are ready, willing and more than qualified to enter our workforce,” Malloy said.
Malloy’s order requires state departments, boards and commissions to revise their procedures for occupational certifications and licenses to account for military education, skills and training. It also requires the state’s public colleges to review their policies and recommend ways for veterans to get college credit for their military education.
State Veteran Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz said the order will simply give veterans credit for what they’re already earned in the classroom and through their experience. She said veterans have had a particularly hard time getting credit in the medical field for LPN and EMT jobs and for licenses to drive heavy equipment.
For instance, Schwartz said she knows of a combat medic who was told he could not be an EMT unless he started over with his training.
“Here he was doing all these marvelous procedures and saving lives on the battlefield yet when he want to apply for EMT job in civilian life they told him it didn’t translate into licensing this state,” Schwartz said.
The order builds upon Malloy’s recent directive to executive branch state agencies to considering hiring veterans for jobs and his efforts to set up a veterans’ cabinet to improve delivery of services to veterans and their families.
It also dovetails with a new legislative group, the Military Occupation Specialty Task Force, geared toward helping veterans transition to a civilian career, said state Sen. Carlo Leone, Senate chairman of the legislature’s Veterans Committee.
Leone said many states are wrestling with the issue of helping veterans get credit for their military skills.
“It’s a commonsense notion,” Leone said. “Many people understand this, but we and other states have not been able to connect the dots to do exactly what we’re attempting to now.”
Both the state Board of Regents and the University of Connecticut, which has 900 veterans in its student body, welcomed the new initiative.
“It makes good sense for Connecticut to ensure our policies are updated and uniform to provide them with the credits they deserve, and that they are well served regardless of which institution they attend,” said Kristopher Perry, director of the Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs at UConn.