Remove burden from our veterans

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in the United States as of December 2016 is at 4.7 percent.

The unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans (since September 2001) is 5.1 percent and 4.3 percent for all veterans (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

After serving their country, our military personnel move to civilian life with less of a chance at gaining employment than the average civilian American. A major obstacle veterans come across during their job search is the ability to transfer their skills from military to civilian life.

The Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation at Saint Francis University has started a study on military transition in the job market.

The center is starting to find that many veterans are having a difficult time obtaining meaningful employment, not only because of the reasons listed above but also because of occupational licensing barriers.

Depending on your position in the armed forces, you may need to start your education and training all over again just to satisfy the regulation for that particular license.

For example, a current veteran shared his story of being a Naval electrician.

Once he transitioned into civilian life, in order to continue to be an electrician, he needed to start all over again, including paying licensing and training fees, while still unemployed, in order to get a license to practice.

By comparison, a Naval pilot simply needed to show proof of previous experience and credentials, take a competency exam, and obtain a private pilot’s license. Of course, not all situations are created equal, and this process may vary depending on the individual’s situation.

Recently, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey was in Johnstown for the annual Showcase for Commerce. This year he did something a little different.

He pulled together a round table of professionals who may be able to shed light on the issue and help come up with a solution.

They were all able to share how their establishments are doing their part by helping to assist veterans in the transition from military to civilian life.

They also suggested potential legislation on a federal level to help our servicemen and women find and maintain meaningful employment.

While these are all great solutions and progress has been made over the years with lower unemployment rates, there is still more work to be done.

On both a federal and state level, there has been some progress in helping the transition from military to civilian life for veterans with offering reimbursements for occupational licensing testing, proposing tax credits to companies hiring veterans, and still offering the G.I. Bill.

However, another route to consider may be to amend certain occupational regulations and licensing for our retired armed forces members.

This may not only help with the unemployment rate of veterans but the civilian world overall.

Being able to bring different skills into the workplace that can only be obtained while serving our country can benefit the workplace as a whole.

Writer and veteran Scott Beauchamp said it best when he correlated our veterans with Plato’s idea of thymos, stating, “People don’t just want to satisfy their own physical needs, they want to contribute to something larger than themselves.”

This could not be truer for our servicemen and servicewomen. Therefore, it’s our duty to help serve them with something larger than ourselves in the civilian life.

Alanna Wilson is the director of Public Relations Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation at Saint Francis University.