We owe our veterans a lot more than a handshake and a “thank you” for their military service.

Now, Maine is stepping up efforts to help returning vets who have technical skills find work.

Gov. Paul LePage and Anne Head, commissioner of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, have announced an initiative to make occupational licensing an easier process for many returning veterans.
The aim is to put the training and experience of Maine’s veterans to work here at home, by streamlining the licensing process.

Some veterans who did not hold Maine-issued occupational licenses before entering the military may not be aware that the skills they gained while in military service counts as experience that might be applied toward Maine’s occupational licensing requirements.

That holds true for several occupations, including electricians, plumbers, oil and solid fuel technicians, propane and natural gas technicians, stationary steam engineers and boiler operators. In addition, veterans in other professions during their military service are being asked to get in touch with department officials to see whether their experience might help them earn a Maine occupational license.

A new law signed earlier this year by Gov. LePage is intended to ensure that veterans receive full credit for their military training and experience when applying for licenses.

“The people of Maine owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served,” Gov. LePage said in a news release. “We have an obligation to recognize their knowledge and skills whenever possible and appropriate, and our economy needs their contributions.”

The staff of the office of professional and occupational regulation is reaching out to veterans through phone calls, one-on-one meetings, attending events for military veterans and their families, offering help to veterans in this matter. Maine’s licensing staff is available to any potential licensee, but they’re redoubling efforts to keep veterans informed and assisted in every way.

Staff members will be doing all they can to apply relevant military training and experience toward the state’s licensing requirements. The ultimate goal is to make the licensing process quicker and easier for veterans.

Veterans will need copies of relevant documents, primarily their DD Form 214, Report of Discharge and DD Form 2586, Verification of Military Experience and Training, or VMET.

There are handouts explaining the initiative going to veterans’ organizations and information on the department’s website ( www.maine.gov/pfr, see “Recent News and Reports”). You also can get information and assistance by phone at 624-8678, TTY 888-577-6690.

Whether seeking a licensed position or not, veterans might consider getting help when writing their resumes, preparing for interviews and other similar services. Professionals can help translate military experience into terms that civilians appreciate. One place to start gathering information is the website of ICDC College, http://blog.icdccollege.edu/2012/01/06/military-training-civilian-employment-writing-effective-resume/.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit http://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.