RICHMOND — Sen. Timothy M. Kaine says he will file his first bill as soon as next week, aimed at helping veterans looking for civilian jobs to get professional credit for their military expertise.
Kaine’s bill would prevent credential fraud by setting standards and reestablishing an oversight committee in the Department of Veterans Affairs and would expand a Defense Department credentialing pilot program to include the information technology industry.
Addressing an audience at the American Legion Department of Virginia Headquarters in Richmond on Tuesday, Kaine (D-Va.) said his idea has been well received among his colleagues, although he declined to elaborate on support from specific senators.
“As we’re drawing down out of Afghanistan, we’re going to have more and more people moving from active to veteran [status] and looking for jobs in a market that still isn’t as robust as we hoped it might be,” said Kaine, who took office in January and sits on the Senate Armed Services and Budget committees. “We need to get ahead of that.”
Joel Hinzman of Oracle said that the business software corporation is just one of the companies that could greatly benefit from veteran know-how but that his industry has been unable to tap their knowledge without the proper certification.
“Right now, the demand for qualified talent is rising, but the supply isn’t,” Hinzman said. “One way the IT industry hopes to fill some of these positions is with the 165,000 soldiers returning from overseas who have these [skills].”
In addition, Hinzman said, their leadership abilities, ability to perform work under stressful situations and security clearances make them even more attractive to potential employers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was 9.4 percent in February, compared with 7.6 percent a year earlier.
That number is above the national unemployment rate of 7.7 percent.
President Obama highlighted the issue of veteran unemployment during his first term, when he announced a task force aimed at addressing the issue of military credentialing.