By George Darany
Michigan is home to more than 650,000 veterans, and more than 500,000 of them are wartime veterans. The Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs estimates that, depending on troop drawdown, we can expect to see our veteran population increase by 8,000 to 10,000 per year.
Some of these returning men and women will have jobs waiting for them when they come back. However, many more veterans won’t. This is very concerning because our veterans are some of the most talented and skilled individuals. The expertise they have developed through their military experience should qualify them for many available jobs. Recently, the Michigan House of Representatives passed bills sponsored by me and my colleagues that are designed to help our veterans find good-paying jobs when they return.
I am the sponsor of House Bill 4754, which allows military experience to be taken into account when determining who can take the examination for a contractor’s license under the state Forbes Mechanical Contractors Act. This act licenses contractors engaging in heating, cooling, refrigeration and other related specialties.
I introduced this legislation to help our veterans cut through licensing red tape and make it easier for them to find employment using the skills they acquired while in the military. Our veterans should not have to go through redundant civilian training for skills and knowledge that they already possess in order to qualify for an occupational license.
HB 4754 and four other bills – House Bills 4605, 4731, 4752 and 4756 – all recently passed with unanimous support in the House and they are now under consideration in the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security. These bills also allow military experience to count as the basis for licensure or to waive an exam requirement when a veteran is applying for a job as a firefighter; emergency medical technician; boiler operator; and as a residential building, maintenance or alteration contractor. I am pleased to be able to work with my colleagues on this important legislation to make the job search for returning veterans a little easier.
On a related note, I am also happy to announce that I recently sponsored House Resolution 171, recognizing the 100th anniversary of Camp Grayling. Camp Grayling is the largest National Guard training facility in the United States, spanning 147,000 acres of ranges and training areas. This camp annually trains more than 10,000 military personnel from the National Guard units in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues on quick approval of House Bill 4754 and the other veteran employment bills, so that we can send them to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. We owe our gratitude, respect and appreciation to our military personnel serving throughout our country and the world.
(State Rep. George Darany represents the 15th House District. To contact him, call 855-775-1515 or email him at [email protected] To sign up for his e-newsletter, go to his website, house.mi.gov/gdarany.)