In June 2014, Governor John Kasich signed into law important legislation that will improve veterans' access to employment opportunities and higher education. While the full effects of the law remain to be seen, it's clear that job seeking veterans can expect to have an easier time conducting their job search.
With approximately 900,000 veterans living in the state and more returning home every day, the Kasich administration realized new standards were needed to provide greater support to Ohio's military families. The governor introduced Ohio House Bill 488 in March as part of a larger plan to stimulate economic growth in the state, and in just a few months, the bill passed with unanimous votes in the House and the Senate. Currently, the state is in the process of implementing the law.
If you're a veteran, it's important to understand the new benefits granted to you. Rather than reading the legislation in its entirety, which you could do here, Military Veterans Resource Center has outlined the law's important advantages for Ohio's veteran job seekers and student-veterans. Stay tuned for these important changes coming your way soon.
To ensure veterans have every employment opportunity possible, the new legislation establishes a more flexible process for issuing state licenses and certifications to veterans. Previously, many veterans had skills and training gained from the military, but could not show proof of these skills to potential employers, making them less competitive job candidates.
A press release recently published by the Ohio Department of Veterans Services indicates veterans can now use their GI Bill dollars to pay for the testing fees to qualify for a certification. This is a significant change in Ohio law, as it addresses the financial barrier that prevented many veterans from obtaining licenses and certifications. In addition, the law guarantees that veterans and their spouses have a prioritized status in the state boards' licensing process.
The legislation also seeks to connect veterans with prospective employers. According to the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, private employer groups with a preference in hiring veterans can target veterans by registering with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The employer's information will also be published for veterans on the Ohio Department of Veterans Service's website.
One of the law's most significant provisions addresses how colleges award veterans academic credit for their skills. Under the previous system, a school like the Ohio State University would grant college credit for a vet's role as a paramedic, but another college might not award anything. Or, some universities offered college credit free of charge, while others charged a fee to evaluate a veteran's training and experience.
Going forward, all service members will receive college credit for their military experience, and Ohio's public colleges and universities must follow uniform standards for granting college credit. Furthermore, because of their demanding schedules, veterans and service members will have priority registration for classes, which means they can register for classes before their peers.
In addition to a veteran's eligibility to receive credit, Ohio's lawmakers were also concerned with the quality of support veterans received at school. For many, the transition to civilian life can be difficult, and vets may not be aware of helpful campus resources. Under the new law, all public universities must provide career counseling services to veterans to help them understand their options and campus resources. These institutions must also survey their veterans to ensure their needs are met.
According to a recent article from The Plain Dealer, student-veterans should see the law's changes on their campuses soon. The Ohio Board of Regents, the state agency tasked with writing the uniform standards for awarding credit, has created a military strategic implementation team to fully develop the new rules. Representatives from Ohio's higher education institutions, student-veterans, and military members were appointed to serve on the team.
While the team's main objective is to create uniform standards for Ohio's colleges and universities, an article published by cleveland.com, indicates the team will also propose plans for implementing priority registration for veterans in Ohio's public colleges, as well as make policy recommendations to improve veterans' transition to student life. By December 31, 2014, the Ohio Board of Regents must publish the standards for awarding academic credit to veterans, and Ohio's colleges and universities must offer veterans priority registration for classes. All public schools must begin awarding veterans credit for their military experience by July 1, 2015.
With the sixth largest veteran population in the United States, Ohio is ready to improve veterans' opportunities in the state. Looking ahead, Ohio's veterans can expect to receive greater support from the state, it's institutions of higher education, and private sector employers as they make their transition to civilian life.