Governor wants to ease Mississippi veterans’ job searches

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant wants to make it easier for veterans to get jobs when they leave the military and for the spouses of military members to get jobs when they transfer to Mississippi.

Bryant signed a proclamation Wednesday declaring 2013 the Year to Hire Mississippi Heroes.

“We understand how difficult it is for veterans to re-enter the workforce,” said Bryant, speaking at the state Capitol before veterans’ groups. “More than just a handshake or a pat on the back, they deserve an opportunity.”

As part of that effort, the Republican governor is backing a bill that would order licensing agencies to translate military job training to civilian credentials. For example, the state Health Department would be told to examine how much of a military medic’s training should transfer for an emergency medical technician’s license.

Mississippi’s effort lines up with a 2011 federal law that encouraged companies to hire veterans. That law provides tax credits of $2,400 to $9,600 to employers who hire unemployed veterans and veterans with service-connected disabilities

Bryant also supports a bill that would to give temporary professional licenses to spouses of service members transferred to Mississippi. He said that in too many instances, it can take months for someone who moved into Mississippi to transfer a license, causing a break in a family’s income.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security is inviting employers to pledge to hire veterans, with Ingalls Shipbuilding and Entergy Corp. signing that pledge Wednesday at Bryant’s announcement. The department will contact employers who sign the pledge at WIN Job Centers or online and help those companies find qualified veterans for open positions.

Mark Henry, the executive director of the Department of Employment Security cited figures that show the national unemployment rate for recent veterans was 10.8 percent in December, compared to 7.8 percent nationwide.

“The men and women who have been defending us are having a harder time finding jobs than those of us who stayed at home,” Henry said.

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