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First Lady Michelle Obama Joins Governor O’Malley for Veterans Full Employment Act Bill Signing

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Martin O’Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr, House Speaker Michael E. Busch, joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown, today signed the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 into law.

“There is no progress without jobs,” said Governor O’Malley. “Throughout our country, there is a dichotomy between the fact that too many of our fellow citizens are still without work, while at the same time too many of our businesses cannot find workers who possess the requisite skills. Together with our leaders in the General Assembly, we passed the Veterans Full Employment Act because all too often, veterans face barriers by their state’s own bureaucracy, for themselves or for their spouses. With the support of First Lady Obama and Dr. Biden, we are making sure our veterans receive the jobs they need and the full credit they deserve for their military training, education, and experience from licensing boards, and from our colleges and universities.”

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have set a goal that by the end of 2015, all 50 states will have taken legislative or executive action to help the nation’s troops get the credentials they need to successfully transition to the civilian labor market.

“Since last year, when I first spoke to our nation’s governors about the issues facing military spouses, the number of states that have passed laws to help these spouses has more than tripled – from 11 to 36,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “Since we spoke with the governors again at the end of February, 13 states, including Maryland, have acted to help our veterans earn credentials…I want to say a huge thank you to Governor O’Malley for his leadership on this effort and to all of the legislators who made our military families a priority.”

“Streamlining our bureaucratic licensure and certification process to recognize the experience and talent of our veterans and their families is the very least we can do for these incredible men and women,” said Senate President Miller. “It is a win-win that honors their service and brings tremendous economic benefit to our State.”

“Our veterans are some of Maryland’s greatest leaders,” said House Speaker Busch. “They have received the finest training and life experiences anywhere and, with this legislation, we can better harness their skills and energy to work for our State. I am proud to stand with Governor O’Malley, President Miller and First Lady Obama today to sign this legislation in support of our veterans.”

The O’Malley-Brown Administration recently set a new goal to reach full employment for Maryland veterans by the end of 2015. The Veterans Full Employment Act removes certain barriers to employment that service members often face when making the transition from military service to the civilian workforce. The bill also expedites the occupational and professional licensing process for military spouses when a military family moves to Maryland.

“When our veterans return from combat and other deployments to enter the job market, they should be able to fully utilize the skills they’ve acquired to find a good paying job,” said Lt. Governor Brown, the nation’s highest-ranking elected official to have served a tour of duty in Iraq. “Our veterans and military families have earned our respect and our full support, that’s why I was privileged to lead the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s effort to pass the Veterans Full Employment Act. We still have a lot of work to do to help veterans transition back into the community, but this legislation is a major step forward.”

The Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013, which the Administration developed in consultation with DOD, addresses these key issues:

  • ensuring that veterans who apply for occupational and professional licenses in Maryland get credit for their military training, education, and experience;
  • requiring Maryland’s public institutions of higher education to develop and implement policies for awarding academic credit for relevant military training and education; and
  • establishing expedited licensing procedures for military spouses, service members, and recently-discharged veterans who relocate to Maryland.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) established its USA4 Military Families initiative to engage state policymakers on issues concerning the quality of life of military members and their families. Through this initiative, DOD has identified 10 “key issues” most important to the welfare of veterans, servicemembers, and military families, including the development and adoption of state policies that facilitate the process by which servicemembers and veterans receive licensure credit and academic credit for relevant military education, training, and experience and to lessen the financial burden on military families that relocate to another state by removing state licensure impediments facing military spouses.

Watch the bill signing here.

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