By Debbie Gregory.
One of the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of Veterans securing civilian jobs is the fact that many employers don’t recognize military qualifications as work experience. Every Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) has specified training, and requires qualifications that, in most cases, don’t carryover to the civilian world, once service members separate from the military.
But now, as the U.S. military is in the process of its largest draw down in generations, the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is leading efforts to give soldiers the opportunity to earn certifications and licenses for their military experience that will be recognized by civilian employers. The program is part of a recent directive, signed by Secretary of the Army John McHugh, and calls for the branch to improve its credentialing and career skills programs. The program is being pushed by Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) Dan Dailey.
“This is a win-win for the Army and its soldiers,” SMA Dailey said. “What better time than now, when the nation needs an Army of soldiers and leaders with creative and critical thinking skills to accomplish any mission the nation asks of us. We must be able to give them the most educated fighting force in the world.”
Soldiers are able to earn two types of credentials: One is a non-DOD government license, which include state-issued commercial driver’s licenses and licenses issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. The other is a certification from an independent agency or industry-organization, such as the American Welding Society. The Army is looking to create licenses and certifications for every MOS.
The Army is hoping that its credentialing program will benefit soldiers and the branch by helping transitioning soldiers get hired in the civilian world, recognized as qualified workers. The DOD is responsible for unemployment compensation for the first 26 weeks after a service member separates. And according to the Department of Labor, the average recipient receives 21 weeks of unemployment compensation. The Army spent more than $320 million in unemployment compensation for soldiers, who were qualified workers, but lacked the proper civilian-recognized credentials.
The new program will also benefit soldiers who are wishing to make the Army their career. Earning credentials provides soldiers with promotion points, which will factor into their tallying at promotion time. For example, a sergeant looking to promote to staff sergeant can earn ten points for each certification, for a maximum of 50 points towards promotion.
With unemployment among Post-9/11-era Veterans among the highest in the nation, programs such as this could go a long way. Anything that can be done should be done to reduce this statistic for a generation of Veterans in recognition of their patriotism and sacrifice during the country’s longest period of war.
To see what credentials are available to soldiers, visit https://www.cool.army.mil/
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Military Connection: Army Expanding Credentialing Program to all MOS’s: By Debbie Gregory