COLUMBUS, Ohio - Veterans' military skills and service must be taken into account for civilian job licensing and college credits, according to an order by Gov. John Kasich to state agencies Tuesday.
The order requires state agencies to consider relevant military training when licensing and certifying veterans for civilian jobs. Kasich also is requiring Ohio's Board of Regents to work with the state university system to find ways of awarding more college credit for military training and education.
The order notes the unemployment rate among Ohio's nearly 900,000 veterans was 7.6 percent last year and 12.8 percent for post-9/11 veterans.
Kasich said after signing the order at an Executive Workforce Board meeting in Columbus that it "just makes common sense."
"You're driving a truck in Afghanistan, you come back to America, you should be certified to drive a truck," he said. "If you've been on the battlefield and you're a medic, and you're saving people's lives, you ought to be able to be back here and get a certification as an emergency responder."
The order also says more than 22,000 people are attending Ohio colleges and universities using federal veteran education benefits.
The action is "a great thing for veterans," said Michael McKinney, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.
"This shows veterans in Ohio that their training and experience counts and that it can lead directly to a job or give them credit to a college or university that gets them closer to their goals," McKinney said.
He said the order addresses an issue facing many veterans. Some who train as medics or in other military occupations with direct applications to civilian jobs later find they have to get additional training and certification after leaving the service.
"But by the time they do that, jobs may be filled," he said.
The Ohio Board of Regents chancellor and university presidents also will must review current policies on identifying military education and training and suggest ways to simplify the awarding of appropriate credits. Regents spokesman Jeff Robinson says the order "puts everyone on the same page to better serve veterans."
Army veteran Buck Clay, a University of Cincinnati student, supports the order and says "it's about time."
But he is concerned about how it will be carried out.
Clay says the military, schools and licensing agencies need to be "more proactive in making sure military training and skills can be translated properly" for civilian purposes.
The military doesn't always clearly identify skills and training with the most up-to-date definitions, and employers and schools often don't understand how they apply to the civilian world, he said.
"I just hope they set up the proper framework for getting this done," Clay said.
State agencies issuing occupational certifications and licenses and the Board of Regents and universities also must identify any state and federal barriers that might hurt veterans' efforts to get certifications and college credits and recommend any needed changes.