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Occupation bill to support military personnel heads to Governor

A measure to help returning veterans use their military training and skills to better qualify for employment is on its way to the Governor’s desk after receiving overwhelming support from both legislative bodies. Senate Bill 1863, by retired Army Lt. Colonel Sen. Steve Russell and Rep. Ann Coody, creates the Post-Military Service Occupation, Education and Credentialing Act.

“Most military personnel don’t have the opportunity to go to college prior to enlisting but they obtain training, education and skills that are just as useful in the workforce as anything they could learn in a college classroom,” said Russell, R-Oklahoma City. “This bill will help veterans save time by getting them college credits for any training or education they received in the military. We want to help them get that degree or occupation license or certification as quickly as possible so they can return to the civilian workforce.”

SB 1863 would allow Oklahoma colleges, university and technology centers to provide academic credit to a military veteran, who was honorably discharged in the previous three years, for any applicable education, training and experience received through military duty that pertains to his or her area of study. Governing boards must adopt policies for military academic credit by January 1, 2013, and courses must meet the standards of the American Council on Education or equivalent standards.

The measure also instructs administrative bodies, state agency directors or officials with authority over professional licensure to accept qualifications received during military service and apply them toward licensure where applicable.

“Most employers won’t recognize the alternative training and education veterans receive in the military. This bill will apply veterans’ knowledge and skills obtained during service to whatever area of education or employment they’re seeking,” said Coody, R-Lawton. “This is a tremendous bill that will help our veterans and their spouses qualify for more jobs.”

SB 1863 will also help the spouses of active military find employment easier by requiring agencies, boards and commissions to develop procedures to expedite the licensure of military spouse applicants. In order to qualify, the military member must be on active duty within the state or claim permanent residency in the state for six months prior to assignment to active duty or during the period of active duty. The applicant must be certified in another state to perform those professional services and have left employment in another state to accompany the spouse on active duty. A temporary permit may be issued if the person needs to complete additional requirements not required in the previous state.

Once signed into law, SB 1863, which was requested by the U.S. Department of Defense’s state liaison, will go into effect November 1, 2012.

Contact info
Sen. Russell: (405) 521-5618 Rep. Coody: (405) 557-7398