The knowledge and skills of America’s veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq is a gold mine. Louisiana is right to try to capitalize on the drawing down of forces after those two long conflicts.
Yet there is a mismatch, sometimes, between the civilian workforce’s ideas of skill sets, and the military’s processes of training. Add in a third element, the academic world that returning veterans often turn to via the GI Bill, and there is a chance that vets’ skills aren’t properly appreciated, or rewarded, in the process of getting into a college level of study.
In December, the Council for a Better Louisiana hosted Cheryl Casone, of Fox Business Network, who has interviewed many returning veterans as well as the business leaders that are the more normal fare of a business news channel.
She said that the military’s approach to training and development of its workforce is laudably intent on teamwork and group skills. Yet the civilian economy might easily classify job seekers based on an individual’s accomplishments — perhaps, she said, the kind that don’t come across as readily from a soldier’s resumé.
By and large, we think that most businesses — just as most universities — jump at the experience and maturity of veterans as applicants for jobs or matriculation. Louisiana’s institutions are probably more positive about this experience than most.
But if there are any ways to make that peacetime transition easier, we welcome it. That’s why we believe that Gov. Bobby Jindal and key legislators are kicking off a good discussion in the 2015 Legislature with bills that are intended to ensure that veterans and military students complete college educations in Louisiana.
The governor said that many active soldiers begin their post-secondary careers through online and on-base opportunities offered by U.S. Department of Defense contract schools. Legislation by Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, would require state schools to seek arrangements with these institutions so that academic credit can be awarded and transferred more easily.
Another bill by Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, will recognize campuses who achieve the goals of vet-friendly educational opportunity.
Again, we suspect that state colleges are eager for and actively seek veterans’ enrollment but to the extent that the Nevers legislation makes that easier, we’re all for it.