This post originally appeared on the Ohio AFL-CIO blog.
More than 20 union veterans and members representing each branch of the military, along with the group Veterans Helping Veterans & Others Inc., met near the Ohio Statehouse today before heading out to meet with 10 senators to discuss gaining support for Senate Bill 13 (S.B. 13), the Veterans Opportunity Act, sponsored by Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville).
S.B. 13 is in committee now, and these activists met with members urging them to vote it out of committee and pass it through the Senate so the House of Representatives can vote on it.
Update: Ohio Gov. John Kasich issued an order to state agencies they must consider veterans' military skills and service for civilian job licensing and college credits.
“This is amazing and quite honestly, something we need to see more of in order to help our veterans,” said state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). “I hope all of you will go back to your communities and organize events locally as well. You are all natural leaders coming from our military and can all lead the charge to make it easier for our veterans to receive the employment or college credit they deserve.” Fedor served in the U.S. Air Force and Ohio Air National Guard for six-and-a-half years.
Sen. Gentile reintroduced the S.B. 13, with the intention that the 130th General Assembly will address the critical educational and professional needs of Ohio’s veterans. The legislation seeks to expand the educational and professional opportunities for Ohio’s veterans by calling for a standardized system in awarding academic credit for veterans who have taken coursework or have received specialized training while in the armed forces.
“It is my intention that this legislation will make every public higher education institution more accommodating to our state’s returning veterans and their families,” said Sen. Gentile. “As the state, and particularly Appalachia, struggles to add jobs, we must do everything in our power to ensure that our veterans are as competitive as possible when they return from service.”
The Ohio Veterans Opportunity Act includes several key provisions:
- Developing a model for training counselors and academic advisers to ensure needs of veterans are being met.
- Training at least one faculty member at each two-year or four-year college or university as liaisons and contacts for student veterans.
- Providing these faculty members with sensitivity and awareness on various issues facing veterans, including: military and training culture, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and others.
- Establishing a program that creates collaborative relationships between student veterans and alumni to help link veterans with prospective employers.
Also on hand was Air Force veteran and Delta pilot and union member Scott Wharton, who will be running for Congress against Steve Stivers in Ohio House's 15th District.
“We have to do everything we can to ensure our veterans have an opportunity for a quality life at home and that means a good-paying job that uses the experience and leadership qualities our veterans learn every while serving their country,” said Wharton.
The Lobby Day was the second annual event sponsored by the Union Veterans Council of the Ohio AFL-CIO.