Recognizing the Unique Assets of Military, Veterans

 

Veterans offer unique assets to the workforce and economic development of our country. Unfortunately, many challenges exist in pairing veterans with job, career and entrepreneurial opportunities. Members of the Subcommittee on Military and Veterans’ Concerns identified five categories to address this issue and ensure active service members and veterans successfully move toward their goals on the pathway to prosperity.
Identifying Veterans
Many veterans do not self-identify or do not identify themselves as veterans, especially noncombat, those who did not retire and female veterans. Consequently, they are not aware of the benefits, programs and services available to them.
Therefore, policymakers must develop policy initiatives to identify the veterans so states can communicate information regarding the programs and benefits available to them and their family members. The policies must be dynamic and fluid to allow interconnectivity between agencies and various levels of government to ensure veterans/military and their families are successful.
To that end, the subcommittee is working to create a centralized database of veterans for states to utilize to educate and inform veterans of opportunities, benefits and programs. Ideally, the database will include opportunities to collect information as an opt-in process. Once identified, entities working with veterans can leverage technology solutions (such as text messages) to reach veterans.
The subcommittee recommends developing an interagency veteran council to collect data with the state and federal veterans affairs groups, state department of motor vehicles and any points of entry to offer an opt-in option to compile veteran data.
Unemployment
Veterans are poised to be successful in jobs and careers based on their discipline and training. Entrepreneurs create jobs. Providing veterans preferences for state jobs and contracts is an important component of plans to reduce unemployment. Additionally, the policies must protect private sector companies working to provide veteran preferences from lawsuits and potential areas of adverse claims.
Supporting entrepreneurship as an employment option is another way to reduce unemployment among veterans. Opportunities for small business development and sustainment include:
  » Offering credit for military training, education and experience toward obtaining occupational license or certifications.
  » Maintaining reserve component members’ occupational licenses during mobilization, including time to return to work.
  » Creating state reciprocity to endorse member’s or spouse’s license in good standing from another state.
Academic Completion
Veterans who have military training and knowledge combined with academic degrees and/or certifications create a stronger workforce. But some existing barriers limit or prohibit access to academic success. States can take these steps to mitigate and eliminate barriers:
  » Direct institutions to increase transparency and protect veterans by 
disclosing policies on acceptance of credit for service and transfer of credit from other institutions for military members and families.
  » Direct institutions to provide flexibility in enrollment and priority registration.
  » Offer tax credits for public-private partnerships for veteran job and career advancement training and entrepreneurship.
Advocacy
One of the greatest barriers for veterans is the gap in military cultural awareness. Advocacy/awareness is required to level the playing field for veteran/military family workforce development. This assists in communicating programs, benefits and services to eligible veterans.
The committee recommends the following actions to improve the pathway to prosperity:
  » Develop an interagency veteran/military transition council that includes state agencies, veterans, private industry/business leaders, civic organizations, and chaplains and faith-based institutions.
  » Direct state oversight councils to initiate programs to educate service providers, educators and employers on veterans’ issues.
  » Direct state agencies to identify veterans as part of their contact with the public; this ties into the first problem of identifying veterans.
Housing
Housing is a significant barrier to workforce entry. Addressing homelessness is an imperative before veterans can seek employment or educational opportunities. Several ideas emerged to provide veterans affordable, safe and suitable housing. The subcommittee’s recommendations include:
  » Turning foreclosure inventory at banks into veteran housing.
  » Directing a legislative study to reduce the homeless veteran population.
  » Supporting mortgages, mortgage services and assistance to veterans.
  » Utilizing civic and nonprofit organizations combined with private industry to resolve housing challenges.
  » Utilizing state and federal grants to revitalize neighborhoods and house homeless veterans.
  » Focusing housing/shelter initiatives to support female veterans and veterans with children.

Subcommittee on Military & Veterans' Concerns

Identifying Veterans
» Create a centralized, opt-in database of veterans for states to educate and inform veterans of opportunities, benefits and programs; and
» Create an interagency veterans’ council to collect data.
Unemployment
» Provide veterans preferences for state jobs and contracts;
» Provide credit for military training, education and experience toward obtaining occupational licenses 
or certifications;
» Maintain reserve members’ occupational license during mobilization, including time to return to work;
» Create state reciprocity to endorse members’ or spouses’ licenses from another state; and
» Provide temporary licenses through state reciprocity 
to members and spouses for those who are qualified.
Academic Completion
» Accept credit for military training, education and experience toward obtaining academic degrees;
» Direct institutions to increase transparency and protect veterans by disclosing policies on acceptance of credit for service and transfer of credit from other institutions for military members and families;
» Direct institutions to provide flexibility in enrollment and priority registration;
» Provide tax credits for public-private partnerships 
for veterans’ job and career advancement training 
and entrepreneurship;
» Ensure institutions implement federal laws for 
offering active, reserve, veterans and their families in-state tuition; and
» Reduce or waive tuition for veterans who have exhausted their benefits.
Housing
» Provide property tax credits to veterans; 
» Direct a legislative study to reduce the homeless veteran population by supporting mortgages, mortgage services and assistance to veterans, utilizing civic and nonprofit organizations combined with private industry to resolve housing challenges and utilize state and federal grants to revitalize neighborhoods and house homeless veterans; and
» Focus housing and shelter initiatives to support 
female veterans.