It’s bad enough that the nationwide unemployment rate is stuck at a dismal 9.1 percent. Far worse, though, is the unemployment rate for U.S. veterans — 13.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even more shocking are statistics for the youngest veterans; in recent years, the jobless rate for 18-to-24-year-old vets has soared to more than 20 percent.
That’s shameful, and should serve as an immediate call to action. Veterans deserve our gratitude, to be sure, but thanks alone won’t put food on their tables or roofs over their heads. For that, they need assistance in finding decent jobs.
In some cases, that means ensuring they receive adequate educational credit for real-world experience they gained in the military. For that reason, we fully support Rep. Lois Capps’ bill that would make it easier for veterans who served as medics to be certified as Emergency Medical Technicians. Among other provisions, the legislation would encourage states to partner with colleges and universities in establishing fast-track certification paths for former medics who want to become EMTs.
As far as we’re concerned, this act is a no-brainer that should have been approved long ago. It’s a waste of time to require seasoned military medics — who have already received training and invaluable field experience under the most stressful of circumstances — to start at square one, alongside students who may be fresh out of high school.
Congress should approve the Emergency Medic Transition Act without delay so that colleges offering EMT programs — including Cuesta and Hancock — can work on developing streamlined training that gives veteran medics their due.