November 25, 2012

MAINE COMPASS: State helps vets use skills to get civilian jobs

Anne Head

The recent observance of Veterans Day once again reminded us that thousands of men and women across Maine have sacrificed greatly on our behalf.

They willingly answered the call to duty and served with honor. Some made the ultimate sacrifice, and all contributed to our nation's security in more ways than most of us may ever realize.

Our efforts to pay tribute and express appreciation are as important as ever, and they undoubtedly make a difference.

At the same time, this important annual holiday also should make us mindful that many service members are now returning to civilian life. Whether returning from Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, they're seeking employment and hoping to use their substantial skills to support their families, benefit Maine businesses and strengthen our economy.

With this in mind, Gov. Paul LePage wants to help veterans make a successful transition from the military to the civilian work force. He and first lady Ann LePage have devoted much time and personal attention to the employment needs of our veterans.

LePage has made it a priority for state agencies to assist Maine's veterans in all possible and appropriate ways. He worked with the Legislature and the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation earlier this year to enact, sign and implement a new law to that end.

The law is intended to ensure that veterans are given full credit for applicable military training and experience when they apply for an occupational license from the Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation. My staff and I have been trying to simplify the licensing process for veterans by offering more personalized guidance and applying relevant experience toward Maine's licensing requirements.

Whenever we can give veterans credit for their military experience, we intend to do so. It's in the best interest of veterans, our business community, and consumers seeking the services of electricians, plumbers and other professionals.

We also know that veterans have skills -- beyond those needed to obtain a professional license -- that can enhance every workplace and assist virtually any employer.

Those who recently served generally are excellent working in teams, and they adapt quickly to instructions. Many possess extensive knowledge and training in the use of technology, and most demonstrate leadership qualities, dependability and an enviable work ethic.

As the job search website Monster.com puts it, "In addition to their broad range of technical skills, veterans have a well-deserved reputation for soft skills and admirable qualities that are just as important: leadership, team player skills, hard work, reliability and many more."

Veterans interested in learning more about the state's efforts to streamline the occupational licensing process are encouraged to call Department of Professional and Financial Regulation at 624-8678. They should contact the department before applying for a license.

Military documentation that may be needed includes:

* Copy of DD Form 214, Report of Discharge.

* Copy of DD Form 2586, Verification of Military Experience and Training.

My staff and I will continue to explore ways to assist veterans, while also continuing to safeguard public health and safety. We also are open to ideas for additional improvements to licensing laws and procedures, and welcome feedback from veterans and other Mainers.

 

Anne Head is commissioner of Maine's Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.

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