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Witness Testimony of The Honorable Steve Stivers (OH-15)

I want to thank Chairman Stutzman and Ranking Member Braley for holding this important legislative hearing today on my legislation, the Helping Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Return to Employment (HIRE) at Home Act.  Also, I would like to thank my lead Democrat co-sponsor Representative Tim Walz of Minnesota for tackling this important issue with me.

The measure before the committee today is designed to improve cooperation between the military and state agencies to more closely align specialized military training and state licensing and certification requirements.

The legislation came from an idea shared by a group of local veterans at a roundtable I held in my District in Columbus, Ohio.  I am grateful to that group of local veterans for bringing this problem to my attention – including three young veterans Angela King, Dustin Crum and David Warnock.  With the number of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to make every effort to help our returning military transition back to jobs in their local communities.

I have served over 26 years in the Ohio Army National Guard and have been honored to serve with so many brave men and women over the years. Our service members and veterans have protected the United States at immense personal cost to themselves and their families –to defend our nation and its ideals of democracy and freedom.  They and their families deserve our respect and our gratitude, and we owe a debt to them for their service.

As many of you know, unemployment among post-9/11 veterans is 12.7 percent, according to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report.  By allowing military training in a comparable field to count toward certification in the private sector, it will help get veterans back to work more quickly once they are back with their families.

Specifically, the HIRE at Home Act would apply when a veteran is seeking State certifications or licenses to become a state-tested nursing assistant, EMT, certified nursing assistant, registered nurse or commercial truck driver.  This legislation simply encourages states to consider our service members’ experience, which could allow them to skip expensive and time-consuming hurdles to employment. 

My legislation will not only help veterans be more competitive in the job market but also help them land better jobs.  For example, an Army medic who administered medication to wounded soldiers and was responsible for their lives on the battlefield, could not be certified as an emergency medical technician (EMT) in our local communities without redundant schooling.  This bill would make that transition much easier.

It is encouraging that the Department of Defense (DoD) released a report identifying several education and training issues it hopes to resolve, including having military training pre-approved within state credentialing options. 

While serving our country, our military men and women perform high-skilled jobs, often under intense and dangerous conditions.  One of the best ways to honor their service would be to give them the opportunity to do the same job, without unnecessary and burdensome hurdles at home.

Again, I appreciate the Chairman and Ranking Member for allowing me to testify today and holding this hearing.