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Terri Moon Cronk, American Forces Press Service
ANNAPOLIS, Md., Feb. 19, 2013 In its quest to help veterans find employment, the Defense Department is collaborating with states, which represent the center of gravity for jobs, said Frank DiGiovanni, director, Training Readiness and Strategy for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Readiness.
DiGiovanni testified Tuesday before a Maryland state administrative panel in Annapolis on the benefits of the state’s Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013. The crux of the act would require licensing units and boards to give credit to veterans for related military training, education and experience. Giovanni heads the licensing and credentialing task force for the Defense Department.
DOD is developing a three-phase program in conjunction with states, he noted.
“The first will be to work with [states’] professional organizations that represent your licensing boards,” he said. “We’ll also recognize states … that have exhibited the best practices in support of our veterans. The third part of our strategy is to look at veterans service organizations and use them as our ‘missionaries’ to talk to folks about what the needs of our veterans are.”
DiGiovanni said putting skilled workers and veterans back to work is an urgent matter.
“In January,” he said, “for 18- to 24-year-old veterans, the unemployment rate was 31.5 percent, as compared to the national average for that same age group of about 7.9 percent”.
The jobless rate among veterans varies between 12 percent and 31 percent, he said, adding that it’s extremely important for the legislation to pass state legislatures “because it does help put our folks to work.”
An important factor in veterans’ unemployment is the 240,000 service members who leave the military each year. “And that includes an end-strength cutdown that will take place over the next five years, and an additional 100,000 people,” he added. “So this legislation is extremely important for those who will depart from military service.”
DiGiovanni said DOD’s licensing and credentialing task force is focusing on such occupational specialties as aircraft and automotive mechanics, first responders, supply and logistics, health care, transportation, information technology and manufacturing. He added the act would provide those in certain military occupational specialties, such as combat arms, with “ready access to employment” when they leave the military.
“From our perspective, this is one of the most comprehensive [bills] that we’ve seen,” DiGiovanni said. “And right now there’s no other bill like it that has passed legislation, so it’s extremely important.”