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James Kendzel, MPH, SPHR

James Kendzel, MPH, SPHR, National Organization for Competency Assurance, Executive Director

The National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) appreciates the opportunity to submit testimony to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity regarding its hearing on updating the Montgomery G.I. bill, the nation’s primary educational benefit for military personnel and veterans.

Maximize Use of Montgomery G.I. Benefits

NOCA was an active participant in working with Members of Congress and the veterans’ community to expand the use of Montgomery G.I. benefits towards paying for the cost of obtaining an occupational certification or license.  Upon enactment of this new benefit,[1] NOCA actively encouraged NOCA member certification boards to apply for approval from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)[2] to speed the reimbursement process for veterans applying for reimbursement after taking their particular certification test. A large number of certifications meet the VA standards and are now reimbursable.[3] 

NOCA continues to believe that the program is an essential element of the benefits returned to our veterans for their service to country and that this specific benefit enhances veterans’ marketability in a competitive workforce by demonstrating competency in a particular occupation.  NOCA has noted, however, that there has been a significant decrease in the use of the benefit since its inception.  For example, from FY2004 to FY2006, the number of payments for certification and licensure tests dropped from 5,123 (FY2004) to 2,899 (FY2006).  The amount paid out in certification and licensure reimbursements dropped from $1,433,768 (FY2004) to $1,062,852 (FY2006).  However, the average payment increased from $280 to $367 during the same time period.[4]

The Professional Certification and Licensure Advisory Committee (PCLAC) has reviewed the decreasing numbers and suggested that the VA step up its outreach efforts to ensure awareness of the certification and licensure reimbursement benefit.  NOCA supports this role for the VA.  In years previous, staff from VA regularly attended and exhibited at the NOCA Annual Conference, the nation’s largest gathering of certification bodies, in order to increase knowledge of the certification and licensure reimbursement benefit.   The PCLAC sent a letter in 2006 to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs expressing their concerns about the VA’s lackluster outreach efforts for the last few years in this area. 

NOCA continues to encourage its member certification boards to become approved by the VA.  In addition, military websites such as Army Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL)[5] and Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL)[6] provide information about using Montgomery G.I. benefits to pay for the cost of taking a certification or licensure examination.  Likewise, Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES),[7] a NOCA organizational member, provides similar information for veterans.  However, more can be done to promote this important benefit.  NOCA will continue to encourage its individual member certification boards to promote their VA approval to potential certificants.  These efforts, long envisioned and encouraged by NOCA, are now essential building blocks for a regime of commitment to our veterans.  We also encourage the VA to redouble its outreach efforts to both veterans and the certification community to raise awareness of Montgomery G.I. benefits.

NOCA also recommends that the certification and licensure benefit be expanded to help pay for the costs of test preparation courses.  Many such specialized courses can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, for classroom instruction as well as practice tests, books, and other preparatory materials.  They are essential in many instances to the successful preparation of otherwise qualified applicants, and we urge Congress to give this proposal a serious look.

The current Montgomery G.I. benefit for paying for certification and licensure exams has a 10 year window in which the veteran may access these benefits.  There has been discussion about eliminating the 10 year time period as well as allowing veterans to transfer their benefits to their dependents.  NOCA strongly supports these measures as they would build more flexibility into the education and training system for veterans, making the benefit even more attractive.  This format would acknowledge an asset-based benefit that veterans will have every incentive to earn and utilize for themselves or their dependents. 

Service to our country must and should have very specific and lasting rewards.  For the men and women who enter the armed services, theirs is an expectation of support, and the ability to transfer skill sets learned in service to private sector enterprises.  What more logical investment in the future of our veterans and the fields that they choose to enter after service than tangible pathways to engaging professions and trades afterwards.

About the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA)

NOCA, the oldest and largest organization representing certification agencies, testing companies, and consulting firms and individuals involved in professional certification, was created in 1977 as the National Commission for Health Certifying Agencies (NCHCA) with federal funding from the Department of Health and Human Services.  Its mission was to develop standards for quality certification in the allied health fields and to accredit organizations that met those standards.  With the growing use of certification in other fields, NCHCA’s leaders recognized that what is essential for credible certification of individuals in the healthcare sector is equally essential for other sectors.  With this vision, NCHCA evolved into the National Organization for Competency Assurance.  NOCA is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, committed to serving the public interest by ensuring adherence to standards that ensure the highest competence of certification programs. 

NOCA’s membership is composed of more than 380 organizations responsible for certifying specific skill sets and knowledge bases of professions and occupations at the national and international level.  Through certification, NOCA members represent more than 15 million individuals around the world and include certification programs of some 150 professions and occupations, including 60 healthcare professions. NOCA members certify individual skills in fields as diverse as construction, healthcare, automotive, and finance.  A current roster of NOCA members is included in the appendix.

NOCA also brings the expertise of its internationally recognized accrediting arm, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).  NCCA uses a peer review process to evaluate adherence to its standards by certification programs and grants accreditation to those programs that have met those standards. These standards exceed the requirements set forth by the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and thus help to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.  NCCA is the national accreditation body that provides this service for private certification organizations in all disciplines.

NOCA’s mission is to promote excellence in competency assurance for individuals in all occupations and professions.  No other organization has the presence in or commits the resources to the field of certification.  NOCA is proud of its position as the international leader in competency assurance for certification programs, as well as its role in promoting excellence in competency assurance for practitioners in all occupations and professions. 

Respectfully Submitted,

James Kendzel, MPH, SPHR
Executive Director

[1] Pub. L. 106-419, Sec. 122, 114. Stat. 1833 (Nov. 1. 2000).

[2] Available at

[3] The Department of Veterans Affairs WEAMS database allows a search of approved certifications.  Available at:

[4] Data reported by a VA staff member at the July 21, 2006 minutes of the Professional Certification and Advisory Committee (PCLAC). 

[5] Available at

[6] Available at





NOCA Organizational Members
NOCA's Organizational Members consist of the following associations, certifying organizations, customer groups, and government agencies:

AACE International
Academy of Ambulatory Foot and Ankle Surgery
Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals
Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice
Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation
Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
Alliance of Information and Referral Systems
American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders
American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
American Academy of Micropigmentation
American Academy of Pain Management
American Academy of Wound Management
American Association for Medical Transcription
American Association for Respiratory Care
American Association of Clinical Coders and Auditors
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Certification Corporation
American Association of Medical Assistants
American Association of Medical Audit Specialists
American Association of Physician Specialists
American Association of Poison Control Centers
American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics, Inc.
American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, Inc.
American Board for Occupational Health Nurses
American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion
American Board of General Dentistry
American Board of Genetic Counseling
American Board of Industrial Hygiene
American Board of Lower Extremity Surgery
American Board of Multiple Specialties in Podiatry
American Board of Nursing Specialties
American Board of Opticianry
American Board of Pain Medicine
American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists, Inc.
American Board of Surgical Assistants
American Board of Transplant Coordinators
American Board of Veterinary Practitioners
American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals
American Chiropractic Board of Radiology
American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians
American Chiropractic Neurology Board
American Chiropractic Registry of Radiologic Technologists
American Clinical Board of Nutrition
American College of Sports Medicine
American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists
American Construction Inspectors Association
American Council on Exercise
American Fitness Professionals and Associates
American Health Information Management Association
American Hospital Association Certification Center
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
American Indoor Air Quality Council
American Manual Medicine Association
American Medical Massage Association
American Medical Technologists
American Midwifery Certification Board
American Nurses Credentialing Center Commission on Certification
American Occupational Therapy Association
American Optometric Association Commission on Paraoptometric Certification
American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia
American Physical Therapy Association
American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
American Society for Association Executives
American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery
American Society for Clinical Pathology
American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians
American Society of Military Comptrollers
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
American Staffing Association
American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, Inc.
American Veterinary Medical Association
APICS - The Association for Operations Management
Aquatic Exercise Association, Inc.
Architectural Woodwork Institute
Art Therapy Credentials Board
ASIS International
Association for Death Education and Counseling
Association for Investment Management and Research
Association of Christian Alcohol and Drug Counselors
Association of Government Accountants
Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry
Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
Association of Surgical Technologists, Inc.
Association of Water Technologies, Inc.
Axiom Resource Management, Inc.
Banfield, The Pet Hospital
Behavior Analyst Certification Board
Biofeedback Certification Institute of America
Board for Certification in Clinical Anaplastology
Board for Certification of Addiction Specialists
Board for Certification in Pedorthics
Board for Orthotist/Prosthetist Certification
Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals
Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing
Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics
Board of Certification of Medical Illustrators
Board of Certified Safety Professionals
Board of Environmental, Health & Safety Auditor Certifications
Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties
Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists
Breining Institute
California Association for Alcohol and Drug Educators
California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) and the California Certification Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CCBADC)
California Association of Drinking Driver Treatment Programs
California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants
California-Nevada Section, American Water Works Association
California Water Environment Association
Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators
Canadian Board for Respiratory Care, Inc.
Canadian Chiropractic Examining Board
Canadian Council of Professional Engineers
Canadian Nurses Association
Center for Credentialing and Education
Certification Board for Music Therapists
Certification Board for Radiology Practitioner Assistants
Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution
Certification Board for Infection Control and Epidemiology
Certification of Disability Management Specialists Commission
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.
Certified Fund Raising Executive International
Certified General Accountants Association of Canada
Certified Mine Safety Professional Certification Board
Certifying Board for Dietary Managers
Chartered Realty Investor Society
College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta
College of Massage Therapists of Ontario
College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Ontario
College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario
College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario
College of Pharmacists of British Columbia
College of Physiotherapists of Ontario
College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario
Commission for Case Manager Certification
Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy
Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association
Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools
Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Competency and Credentialing Institute
The Cooper Institute
Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards
Council on Certification of Health, Environmental, and Safety Technologists
Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists
Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation
Council on Professional Standards for Kinesiotherapy
Crane Operator Certification Authority
CFA Institute
CSI Global Education
Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support
Dental Assisting National Board
Department of Environment and Labor Province of Nova Scotia
Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP-ESTA)
Esthetic Skin Institute
Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors
Financial Planning Standards Board
Financial Planners Standards Council
Financial Planning Association of Australia
Florida Certification Board
Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association
Fundação Luis Eduardo Magalhães
Hand Therapy Certification Commission, Inc.
The Healing Oasis Wellness Center
Healthcare Compliance Certification Board
Healthcare Financial Management Association
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
Healthcare Quality Certification Board
Human Resource Certification Institute
Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation
Infocomm International
International Medical University of Natural Education (IMUNE)
Indian Alcoholism Commission of California
Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation
Institute for Safety and Health Management
Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians
Institute of Certified Construction Financial Professionals
Institute of Certified Management Accountants
Institute of Hazardous Materials Management
Institute for Supply Management
International Accounts Payable Professionals, Inc.
International Air Filtration Certifiers Association
International Alliance for Fitness Professionals
International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy
International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Association
International Association of Forensic Nurses
International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management
International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners
International Code Council
International Executive Housekeepers Association, Inc.
International Fitness Association
International Foundation for Retirement Education
International Lactation Consultant Association
International Pilates Certification
International Society for Clinical Densitometry
International Society of Arboriculture
International Society for Performance Improvement
Irrigation Association
ISA, The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society
Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology
Kassian Dyck & Associates
Knowledge Assessment Calculator (formerly American Payroll Association)
Lamaze International
Marketing Research Association
Medical Massage National Certification Board
Michigan Institute for Health Enhancement
NAA Education Institute
NAADAC - The Association for Addiction Professionals
National Academy of Sports Medicine
National Alliance Wound Care
National Assistant at Surgery Council
National Association of Medical Staff Services
National Association for Health Professionals
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts
National Association of College Stores
National Association of Federal Credit Unions
National Association of Forensic Counselors
National Association of Legal Assistants
National Association of Mortgage Brokers
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies
National Asthma Educator Certification Board, Inc.
National Athletic Trainer's Association Board of Certification
National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences
National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses
National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Technologists
National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
National Board for Certification of Orthopedic Physician Assistants
National Board for Certified Counselors
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
National Board for Respiratory Care
National Board of Certification for Community Association Managers, Inc.
National Board of Chiropractic Examiners
National Board of Examiners in Optometry
National Board of Nutrition Support
National Board of Orthodontics, U.S.
National Board of Surgical Specialists
National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
National Business Aviation Association
National Center for Competency Testing
National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators
National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Body Work
National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing Specialties
The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing
National Commission for Certification of Continuing Medical Education Professionals
National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators
National Concrete Masonry Association
National Contact Lens Examiners
National Council for Interior Design Qualification
National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, Inc.
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying
National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.
National Council on Strength and Fitness
National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel
National Dental Hygiene Certification Board
National Enrichment Teachers Association
National Examining Board of Ocularists
National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)
National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)
National Federation of Professional Trainers
National Fitness Professionals Association
National Ground Water Association
National Healthcareer Association
National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence
National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies
National Institute for Metalworking Skills
National Kitchen and Bath Association
National League for Nursing
National Occupational Competency Testing Institute
National Paramedical for Technician and Assistants
Natonal Recreation and Parks Association
National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians
National Registry of Food Safety Professionals
National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certification Commission
Natural Therapies Certification Board
Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners
North American Registry of Midwives
North Carolina Substance Abuse Practice Board
The Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board
Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
Ontario College of Pharmacists
Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers
Ophthalmic Photographers' Society, Inc. Board of Certification
Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
Petrofac Training International
Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board
Pilates Method Alliance, Inc.
Private Trainers Association
Professional Golfers' Association of America
Professional Healthcare Institute of America
Professional Landcare Network
Professional Photographers of America
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Certification Program
Radiology Coding Certification Board
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.
Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America
Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute
School Nutrition Association
Society of Actuaries
Society of American Foresters
Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers
Society of Certified Senior Advisors
The Society of the Plastics Industry
Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers
Software Engineering Institute
Southern California Crane and Hoisting Certification Program
Transportation Professional Certification Board, Inc.
Turnaround Management Association
UCSD - Center for Criminality Addiction Research, Training, and Application (CCARTA)
Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council
U.S. Green Building Council
Veterinary Hospital Managers Association
The Wedding Planning Institute
Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Certification Board