Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched a new initiative that will help ensure that veterans' valuable and specialized military experience is recognized when they transition to the civilian workforce. The Governor's "Experience Counts" campaign will facilitate the transfer of military skills to the public and private sectors. Governor Cuomo also announced the expansion of the state's Council on Returning Veterans and Their Families and tasked the Council with finding more ways to properly credit military experience in the civilian workforce.
Military veterans are highly trained, often in specialized skills that are in great demand in the public and private sectors. However, veterans' training is often unacknowledged when they pursue licenses, degrees, and certifications in the civilian workforce. Through the Governor's "Experience Counts" campaign, state agencies will now identify ways that New York can better recognize the skills and training that veterans possess.
"As our veterans return home to New York, we must do everything within our power to ease their transition back into civilian life," Governor Cuomo said. "That is precisely what the 'Experience Counts' campaign and the newly revitalized Council on Returning Veterans and Their Families have been set up to accomplish. With this campaign, we can give veterans the credit they deserve for their military training and ensure that the state government works efficiently and effectively on their behalf."
As a first step in the "Experience Counts" campaign, the Governor announced a series of reforms to state licensing and higher education that will ensure military experience is appropriately credited when servicemembers return to civilian life:
- The State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) will each launch "Experience Counts" programs to improve their processes for awarding credit for military training. Both campuses will implement new systems to flag applications by veterans and active duty military and will provide centralized guidance to increase the likelihood of awarding veterans college credit for previous military training and coursework.
- The Department of Motor Vehicles will make it easier and less costly for military members who have gained experience driving trucks and heavy equipment during their military service to obtain a New York commercial driver's license by waiving the road test.
- The Department of Health will allow military training and experience as a medic to count toward certification for home health aides and nursing home aides, as it already does for certification as a paramedic.
The Governor also announced the expansion of the state's Council on Returning Veterans and Their Families, a group of state agencies and civilians that advises the Governor on issues that affect New York servicemembers and assists with the efficient coordination of state services for veterans.
Current membership of the Council consists of the Director of the Division of Veterans' Affairs, the Adjutant General of the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, the Commissioner of the Department of Labor, the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health, and the Commissioner of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, or their designees. The Council also includes two additional members appointed by the Governor.
Governor Cuomo is expanding the Council to add other state agencies that provide services to veterans and additional civilians who have expertise in issues that affect veterans. The additions include:
- Commissioner of Homes and Community Renewal, to assist with housing needs and difficulties experienced by returning veterans
- Commissioner of State Education Department, to assist with credentialing of military specialties into civilian occupations
- President of Higher Education Services Corporation, to assist with scholarship and other higher education needs
- Commissioner of Department of Economic Development
- Director of Office for the Aging
- A representative of an organization that provides behavioral health services to veterans
- A representative of an organization that provides substance abuse services to veterans
- An academic who specializes in Veterans Affairs
The Governor has tasked the Council to work across state agencies to determine how the state can further recognize and credit military training and experience, especially in licensure and educational credit programs.
Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York, said "Governor Cuomo's 'Experience Counts' campaign is an excellent way to get our veterans the rightful credit for their specialized training and unique skill sets. Additionally, the Governor's actions to revitalize and expand the Council on Returning Veterans and Their Families are a further testament to his dedication to our service members."
Acting Director of the Division of Veterans' Affairs Bill Kraus said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for this common sense approach to getting these brave men and women the acknowledgement and certifications they have earned. With this new campaign, our service members will be better equipped to find good paying jobs and return to civilian life."
SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "It is only fitting that our returning veterans receive the recognition they earned during their service to our country, and we applaud the Governor for his 'Experience Counts' campaign. It is critically important that veterans are given ample opportunity to return to the state workforce as they transition back into civilian life. SUNY is proud to partner with Governor Cuomo as we seek to provide all veterans with access to higher education and employment."
CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said, "CUNY is very pleased to join Governor Cuomo's 'Experience Counts' campaign to provide New York's veterans with the credit they have earned through their military training. This timely initiative will go a long way toward helping veterans and their families and CUNY is proud to be a part of it."