Employment Law

Joining Forces- Promoting Jobs and Education for Veterans and Military Spouses

    Several months ago, I was watching an episode of NCIS, and I saw a segment on Joining Forces.  In the NCIS episode, Gibbs meets Michelle Obama at a reception, and they discuss how Joining Forces is helping military spouses and veterans.  I became curious and decided to look up information on Joining Forces to learn more about it. Joining Forces is an initiative promoted by the White House and part of the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 to address the needs of veterans and military families with education programs, job training and placement for veterans and assistance to military families.

Helping Provide Jobs
One of the most successful portions of the Joining Forces initiative has been the private sector’s response to the call for help in creating jobs for veterans.  In May, Joining Forces celebrated its 5th anniversary by announcing its successful alliance with 40 private companies that have pledged to establish over 110,000 jobs for veterans and military spouses. Among the corporations pledging support are telecommunications companies like T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and BAE Systems.  Boeing, Siemens, and Amazon are also participating companies. The solar energy industry is booming and adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy.  The Solar Energy Industries Association recognizes the skill and dedication of veterans and has pledged to hire or train 33,000 veterans and military spouses over the next 5 years.

 
Tech companies know that many of the jobs available require specialized training.  Some of these companies are actually partnering with educational institutions to train veterans for technical jobs.  Micron Technologies is in a pilot program with the Northern Virginia Technology Council to match student veterans with 50 high-tech companies in the Eastern U.S.  The hiring and training programs set in motion by Joining Forces appear to be working.  Unemployment rates for post-9/11 veterans have fallen significantly.  For younger veterans, unemployment has been cut almost in half.    


Military families relocate on average every three years.  These frequent moves mean military spouses need job transfers or new employment with every move.  Spouses with professional licenses may have difficulty getting licensed in the new state.  Some companies are unwilling or unable to agree to interstate transfers for military spouses.  These difficulties can create a financial hardship for military families who rely on two incomes.  Joining Forces is working with state governments and private companies to help overcome these employment hurdles. Thus far, 46 states have passed legislation streamlining licensure for professionals in military families who are being transferred to another base.  A number of companies, including Walmart and Sears, have pledged to provide job transfers for military spouses when the family is moved to a new assignment.

Education
    Military children may attend as many as 6 to 9 school systems during their grade school and high school years.  Joining Forces has been working with school systems to educate the schools about the needs of military school children. Schools need to recognize that children in military families may find it difficult to get enrolled in the classes they need to graduate; to get a place on a school sports team when the season is already underway; to get up to speed in class when the text book or teaching method is different from the last school.  They need ways to facilitate the efficient transfer of records so schooling is not delayed.  Helping military families adjust to new situations helps the service member too.


Every year thousands of military service members leave the service and join the ranks of military veterans.  Many leave the service with the intention of pursuing higher education.   These returning veterans may find they have little in common with younger college students in terms of age and life experience.  Joining Forces seeks to promote and expand available veterans’ services at colleges and universities.  The Departments of Education and Veterans’ Affairs, along with more than 100 education experts, have developed a tool called “The 8 Steps to Success” to help schools develop programs to give veterans the best possible education experience.  The VA is also expanding its Vet Success on Campus information www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/vsocfactsheet.asp.


Wellness
    War, multiple deployments, and frequent moves can disrupt families and take an emotional toll on veterans, active service members, and families. Joining Forces has been working along with the VA to improve wellness programs and resources.  The initiative promotes information campaigns to educate the public and health care providers about the health problems of veterans.  It also offers information and resources to veterans and military families to help them on the road to wellness.


The Joining Forces initiative has been highly successful in gathering support for military veterans and military families. Many states have created their own laws to support this initiative such as Arizona’s Military Skills Test Waiver for Commercial Drivers Licenses1 . I encourage you to read more about Joining Forces and the programs it sponsors. Perhaps, one of them will be right for you.

 



[1] Arizona’s Military Skills Test Waiver for Commercial Drivers Licenses was adopted to ease the professional licensing requirements of military applicants seeking LPN licensure.

 

Cronk, Terri Moon. “First Lady Announces Jabs, Training for 90,000 Vets, Spouses.” U.S. Department of Defense, 24 Apr. 2015, www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/604517. Accessed 31 Aug. 2016.

“Joining Forces” The White House, https://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces/resources. Accessed 31 Aug. 2016.

“Joining Forces: Career Opportunities for Vets and Spouses.” Military.com, www.military.com/veteran-jobs/career-advice/job-hunting/joining-forces-veteran-job-help.html. Accessed 31 Aug. 2016.

“Joining Forces Celebrates 5th Anniversary With More Jobs for Military Veterans and Spouses.” R. Riveter, 5 May 2016, www.rriveter.com/blogs/american-women/116673220-joining-forces-celebrates-5th-anniversary-with-more-jobs-for-military-veterans-and-spouses. Accessed 31 Aug. 2016.

“Fact Sheet: States Answer the First Lady’s Call to Put America’s Heroes Back to Work.” The White House, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/04/17/fact-sheet-states-answer-first-lady-s-call-put-america-s-heroes-back-wor. Accessed 31. Aug. 2016.

 “VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) Fact Sheet.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. http://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/vsocfactsheet.asp. Accessed 31 Aug. 2016.

 

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