LICENSURE AND CREDENTIALING - July 29, 2010
July 29, 2010
ERIC A. HILLEMAN, DIRECTOR
NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE SERVICE
VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WITH RESPECT TO
LICENSURE AND CREDENTIALING
WASHINGTON, D.C. July 29, 2010
MR. CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE:
Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony at today’s hearing on licensure and credentialing for America’s veterans. The 2.1 million men and women of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and our Auxiliaries appreciate the voice you give them at this important hearing.
Upon leaving the military, servicemembers typically follow two tracts: an educational tract or an employment tract. A transition process that is helpful and friendly is central to having a successful transition from active duty to civilian life. Securing licensure, credentials and/ or education credit in areas comparable to their military experiences is a major component to a smooth transition. The VFW has found that previous military training and experience whether in a technical field or on the battlefield, is not widely recognized by the private sector.
When entering the military a servicemember is trained in a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). This is often a field of interest for a servicemember and requires a concentration in a specific area within the military. Much of a veteran’s post service life is shaped by the skills and training of their respective MOS. An MOS provides two distinct skill sets to veterans: highly recognized transferable skills and intangible skills. Highly recognized transferable skills include technical attributes, for example: a mechanic, nurse, or information technology specialist. The intangible skills are attributes that improve the work ability of a veteran. These skills aren’t necessarily listed on a transcript or qualify the veteran for a license, for example those learned in an infantry combat role: organizational management, risk assessment, and leadership skills. Despite the highly recognized transferable skills being more accepted by industry leaders, MOS licensure and certification programs are still scant across private industry.
The primary bridge between the military world and educational world is the American Council on Education (ACE). ACE evaluates military experience translating it into accreditation or college credit for its affiliate colleges and universities. When a servicemember leaves the military, they receive transcripts listing their training and experiences. Each service branch has their own system of tracking a servicemembers activities while in the military: AARTS (Army), SMART (Marines/Navy), CGI (Coast Guard), CCAF (Air Force). While slightly different, all transcripts list military training and coursework during service.
The Department of Defense (DOD) contracts with ACE to review military courses of study and MOS for transferable credit into institutions of higher education. ACE examines specific MOS schools for education credit, recommending the credits be placed on transcripts of service members. These recommended educational equivalents are then accepted or rejected by individual schools depending on the school, the nature of credit, and the veteran’s course of study. Further, ACE produces a guide, “A Transfer Guide; Understanding Your Military Transcript and ACE Credit Recommendations,” which aids veterans and their educational institutions in better understanding how and what translates into college credit. According to the ACE website, “More than 2,300 colleges and universities recognize these ACE-endorsed transcripts as official documentation of military experiences and accurate records of applicable ACE credit recommendations.” ACE evaluations make it easier for veterans to apply to school, whether those veterans have highly recognized transferrable skills or intangible skills. ACE’s guide can be found at: http://www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ProgramsServices/MilitaryPrograms/TransferGuide(4-6-09).pdf.
The number of schools accepting ACE credit varies by state. In South Dakota, for example, four colleges or universities accept full ACE recommendations, Arkansas has eleven, Nebraska has twenty-four, and Oklahoma has thirty-six. While ACE’s recommendations help veterans, who would be at a serious disadvantage when applying for enrollment without ACE, many schools do not accept or recognize credits identified by ACE. Without recognized credit for military service, veterans are required to take course they may have already mastered through military service.
Finding viable employment remains one of the largest challenges facing our veterans today. Many servicemembers seek civilian licensure for their military experiences, often requiring training and/or varying levels of experience. Success in securing licensing or certification in all fields varies by geographic location, prerequisite experience, MOS, and industry.
For example, within the nursing profession, South Dakota and North Carolina accept only the Army Licensed Practical Nurse Program (MOS 68WM6) for veterans to qualify for the state nursing test. Both states only accept the Army Licensed Practical Nurse Program as a prerequisite to sit for the accreditation test. Because nursing requirements are set by state regulation, different states, as well as different schools within those states, determine any credit, if any, for prior service.
One industry of growing success for veterans is in Information Technology (IT). The Computer Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA, is a non-profit trade association advancing the global interests of information technology. Under their Educational Foundation is a program called Creating Futures, which provides free training and certification opportunities to groups such as veterans. Veterans and their spouses can qualify to receive free online training for certifications in numerous information technology certifications, such as, Linux, Security, and Server certifications. If a veteran has previous IT experience, they can qualify for higher certifications skipping over the most basic courses. The Creating Futures program is typically completed within three months and has helped hundreds of veterans receive credit and certification, regardless of their skill set.
Each industry and state determines prerequisite experience for licensing and certification. With such a high degree of variance, veterans could benefit greatly from more centralized information recourses. Ideally, industry associations would invest in and promote translating specific MOSs into recognizable industry accreditation.
Current Transition Programs
The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is the primary program thought of when examining transition assistance. TAP is offered to all military branches for servicemembers leaving the military. The mandatory workshop provides help with general skills such as resume building and interviewing, and they maintain a website which provides numerous internet job search engines. This is a great resource; however, by itself, it is inadequate in addressing veterans’ need as they transition back into civilian life. TAP, like military transcripts, are less of a guide and more of a resource. It is also important to remember that TAP is offered at the time a servicemember is transitioning out of the military; many simply want to get home and are not immediately concerned with employment and education prospects.
The VFW applauds ACE for their work and continues to support their efforts, as well as those schools that recognize ACE credit. The VFW also commends the many work sectors that recognize the value, importance, and abilities of veterans. Still, many educational institutions, as well as employers, have a difficult time understanding a veterans work abilities. We believe that this comes as a result of an inability to interpret, evaluate, and analyze a servicemembers past training and experiences.
The VFW encourages all efforts to increase awareness of ACE among military members as well as educational institutions and employers in order to award veterans their due credit and recognize their many job attributes. The VFW also supports efforts to reach out to independent licensure and certification agencies within various work sectors on behalf of veterans.
We must remember that all veterans, no matter their experience, understand the principles employers’ value as the foundation for success: discipline, dedication, and goal orientation.
The VFW recommends two broad scope studies, one on education credits and one on industry accreditation, to examine what and how military experience transfer into the private sector. When each study determines what is currently taking place across all branches of service and all MOSs, then recommendations can be made to expand successful programs. These programs can be then incorporated into the National Recourse Directory available through the TAP program.
To examine and expand the current cooperation between the DOD and the American Council on Education, we would recommend Congress fund a complete study of every MOS across all branches of service. While not every MOS will have clear transferable credit, schools and veterans alike benefit from a comprehensive process resulting in clearly defined military-educational equivalencies. The 2,300 schools that accept military credits through ACE will have an expanded list of reviewed military credits and millions of veterans will have a detailed list of directly transferable military credit.
The VFW also recommends a licensure and credentialing study to identify MOSs and their applicability in civilian employment in order to best gauge how to approach veteran employment. By examining direct skills and how they can be applied via state-by-state regulations, we could begin to see some standardization within industries. Through this study we would like to see the high variance of accepted military skills evolve into widely accepted accreditation specific to each MOS and apply those toward current industry practices.
These suggestions, ideas and recommendations will not, in and of themselves, solve the educational and employment problems facing our nation’s veterans today. We encourage Congress to consider these initiatives and programs. We believe the cumulative effect of a comprehensive study will help to achieve improvements in education and job quality for veterans and their families.
We appreciate the opportunity to present our views to you today and we welcome any questions you may have.
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