Archived Story

Rep. Sharon Tyler: Bills will enable state veterans to gain employment

Published 9:32pm Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Losing your job is something far too many people in this state have experienced. The economic recession hit Michigan harder than most other states, and at its worst, the unemployment rate was at 14.2 percent in the Great Lakes state.

Now, though, Michigan’s economy is recovering from the recession at the second-fastest pace in the U.S. and statewide unemployment hasn’t been this low since September 2008. But there is one particular group of Michiganders whose unemployment rates have not been dropping on par with the rest of the state — our military veterans. After sacrificing so much for our country and our freedoms, Michigan veterans are returning to the state and finding it more difficult than most to secure jobs.

The unemployment rate among all veterans in Michigan is 16 percent — nearly twice as high as both the national and statewide averages. While this fact alone is troubling, the unemployment rate alone for Michigan’s Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans is 29.4 percent, a staggeringly high figure that is almost 20 percentage points higher than the national average for veterans of the same era (10.9 percent).

Many of those military veterans — my son included — joined the armed forces knowing they would gain valuable, hands-on training that could be used in their civilian lives. Though they did receive that technical training during their time in the military, they currently cannot use this experience as credit when seeking civilian licenses in Michigan.

House Bills 5582, 5583 and 5590, however, were recently introduced in the House of Representatives and would help Michigan veterans enter the work force and put their military experience to use in everyday civilian life.

This package of bills would allow veterans to use their relevant military experience as an alternative to the current experience requirements needed for electrical, plumber and private security guard licenses. Veterans would have to be honorably discharged within one year of applying for their licenses and would still have to meet all other criteria to qualify, including taking and passing a written exam.

I look forward to hearing your comments on these important issues. Please feel free to contact me by calling (888) 373-0078 or emailing sharontyler@house.mi.gov.

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