First Lady Announces Program to Help Veterans Get Credentials

First Lady Announces Program to Help Veterans Get Credentials


The Washington Post
Special to

Tech jobs for veterans

First lady Michelle Obama on Monday announced the launch of a credentialing program that the White House says will help members of the armed forces who are leaving military service earn the certification needed for many high-tech jobs in the private sector.

Many departing service members have faced problems landing high-tech jobs in the private sector despite military training and experience in the field because they lack the proper civilian certification. The new program is aimed at assisting veterans to begin careers in fields such as computer programming and software development.

The pilot phase of the program also would provide additional training for service members who need more skills to receive certification, according to the White House.

The credentialing program, organized by the White House and the Department of Defense, includes a partnership with several information technology companies, including Cisco Systems, that have created what they call a “U.S. IT Pipeline” to help veterans land jobs in the field.

The first lady’s appearance was part of a White House forum on military credentialing and licensing at the Eisenhower Executive Building. It was attended by veterans and industry representatives.

The White House also announced a new program designed to help veterans with health-care experience earn nursing licenses through grants administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

VA claims backlog

A letter urging President Obama to take direct action to resolve the backlog of veterans’ disability claims was sent Monday to the White House by to a bipartisan group of 67 senators.

“We need direct and public involvement from you to establish a clear plan to end the backlog once and for all,” says the letter, which was initiated by Sens. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and signed by more than two-thirds of the chamber.

The number of disability claims pending with the Department of Veterans Affairs is nearly 900,000, and more than 600,000 have been in the system for more than 125 days.

The letter said that the number of pending claims has grown by more than 2,000 percent in the past four years despite a 40 percent increase in the VA’s budget over that time.

Veterans filing with some VA regional offices, including Baltimore, can wait a year or more to have their claims resolved.

“Our veterans now need to hear from the president about how he plans to bring the number of veterans in the backlog to zero,” said Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which has called for the appointment of a presidential commission to examine the issue.

Other veterans groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, oppose the creation of a commission, saying that the issue has been studied enough and that more action and fewer words are needed.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told reporters this month that Obama has made clearing the backlog a priority.

“Nobody is going to be more impatient about this than the guy we’re reporting to on a regular basis . . . the president,” he said.

Opening up farm data

Bill Gates on Monday joined top administration officials in promoting open access to agricultural data as a way to increase global nutrition and food security.

The Microsoft co-founder and chairman helped launch a two-day conference with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park to introduce a new online database that allows farmers, ranchers, scientists and policymakers to freely access publicly funded information.

Through this resource, the federal government provides free access to agricultural information from more than 300 data sets, plus maps and applications.

With the global population projected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050, open-data advocates say the initiative will help combat food insecurity and provide a framework for sustainable agricultural systems.

“The digital revolution fueled by open data is starting to do for the modern world of agriculture what the industrial revolution did for agricultural productivity over the past century,” Vilsack said in a statement.

The conference this week comes as part of a food security and nutrition initiative the president agreed to during the 2012 G-8 summit at Camp David.



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