When Navy Corpsman Joseph Kidd deployed to Iraq in 2007, he had already received a total of 24 months of medical training, and he was combat ready. But he quickly learned that his medical skills-good enough to qualify him to save lives on the front lines-weren’t recognized in the emergency room of his local hospital in Minnesota. Now Joseph is married with a young child and is heading back to school on the GI Bill. That’s great. Even better would be if he could earn money serving in the health care industry, fully credentialed as a nurse or physicians assistant and ready to go, in a market that eagerly needs more trained personnel.
Presidential Call for a Career-Ready Military: The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, working closely with other agencies and the President’s economic and domestic policy teams, will lead a new task force to develop reforms to ensure that every member of the service receives the training, education, and credentials they need to transition to the civilian workforce or to pursue higher education.
Under President Obama’s proposal, Joseph would have had the opportunity to receive his medical accreditations before he separated from the Navy. Like Joseph, many of our Veterans have the skills, talent, training, and experience to contribute to hospitals, factories, laboratories, and schools the day they put on civilian clothes. They need a transition process that recognizes the value of their military experience in civilian terms and, when relevant, helps them get the right certifications for their next job.
W. Scott Gould is the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.