Washington, D.C.U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today introduced legislation helping veterans use the skills they acquired in the military to get good jobs when they return home. The Veterans Skills to Jobs Act would require federal agencies to recognize relevant military training and skills when certifying veterans for federal occupational licenses. Instead of spending time retraining, veterans would be able to receive a federal license if it’s determined their military experience satisfies the occupational license requirements. Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Our young men and women in uniform are able to perform complex duties under extreme pressure and danger, and when they return home they should be able to use these battle-tested skills to secure a good job,”Klobuchar said. “This common-sense legislation will help our veterans cut through the red tape and get the credentials they need to get the jobs they deserve.”

“When our brave men and women of the Armed Forces come home, they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get good paying jobs that they are already qualified for,” said Walz.“By streamlining the Federal certification process, the Veterans Skills to Jobs Act will cut through the red tape and make it easier for our veterans to find employment. There is no reason why a veteran who is certified to work on airplanes in Afghanistan should have to take redundant trainings to work on the same planes right here at home.”

“It is unacceptable that so many veterans, especially those recently returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have found themselves unable to successfully transition into civilian professions for which they have already received world-class training in the military,”said Senator Snowe.  “Instead, too many are forced to spend time and money to go through additional instruction and testing to receive federal certificates or licenses for experience and knowledge that they already possess.  Our government should eliminate such unnecessary, cumbersome barriers to certification for these brave, patriotic Americans, which is why I am proudly supporting the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act.  That’s also why I introduced legislation to streamline the process of obtaining Commercial Driver’s Licenses for our nation’s heroes, and I am pleased that initiative passed the Senate as part of the Highway Bill earlier this month.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is responsible for tracking employment data in the United States, the national unemployment rate was 8.9 percent in 2011.  But, the unemployment rate for veterans who have served on active duty at any point since September 2001 was 12.1 percent.

Last month Klobuchar and Snowe introduced bipartisan legislation that would streamline the process of receiving a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for veterans with the requisite driving experience from their military service. Klobuchar also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Mike Enzi (R-UT) last year that would streamline civilian paramedic training for veterans who already have emergency medical experience as the result of their military service, making it easier for them to secure jobs as civilian paramedics.

The Veterans Skills to Jobs Act is supported by the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Retired Enlisted Association and the Mid-Tier Advocacy Coalition.