In my last column, I focused on some of the state-level education benefits available to veterans. This time around, I’d like to discuss state-level employment benefits that can help you enhance your civilian job prospects.
Much like state education benefits, you can learn what your state has to offer simply by contacting your local State Labor Office and asking to speak to a veterans’ employment representative.
The first thing to do: If you’re separating from the military but don’t already have a civilian job lined up, be sure to ask about unemployment insurance. The ideal, obviously, is to have a job lined up as you’re getting out, but in today’s job market, that’s not always possible. I collected UI benefits because it took me months to land my first civilian job after getting out.
Check out www.dol.gov/whd/contacts/state_of.htm or visit the website of your State Labor Office to connect with a veterans’ representative.
What kinds of employment benefits does a State Labor Office offer for veterans? Here are some:
■ Veteran priority of services: Get priority for employment opportunities and training.
■ Workshops/training: Get help writing your resume, or learn about using social media for job hunting.
■ Peer-to-peer counseling: Your veterans’ representative will also be a veteran and can talk to you from personal experience.
■ Job boards: Employment sites tailored specifically for veterans.
■ Job fairs: Learn about upcoming local job fairs for veterans.
■ Referral services: Get referred to an open position, or for other services covered by federal, state or local agencies. Here are a few specific examples of what states may offer:
New York: CDL Certification for Military Waiver of Skills Test
If you’re a veteran residing in New York and hold a military commercial driver’s license and are interested in working in the private-sector trucking industry, be sure to fill out this form within 90 days of separation: www.dmv.ny.gov/forms/cdl102.pdf.
Georgia: Paychecks for Patriots
These job readiness events hosted by the Georgia Department of Labor (and its counterparts in other states) could be what you’re looking for to get your civilian career off to a good start. Visit www.dol.state.ga.us/spotlight/sp_paychecks_for_patriots.htm to learn about the next event.
Missouri: UI Benefits for trailing military spouses
If you’re a spouse who had to quit your job because your military sponsor got permanent change-of-station orders to a new assignment, be sure to check out http://labor.mo.gov/militaryUI to learn more how you can apply for UI benefits.
Michigan: Rehabilitation services
Veterans with disabilities can access services that could supplement Veterans Department allowances for vocational rehabilitation. Check out the Michigan Veterans Benefits and Services booklet at www.michigan.gov/documents/dmva/VBS-Booklet_Instructions_190078_7.pdf.
These are just a few of the state programs that offer unique veterans’ employment benefits. Every state has programs like this, and understanding what’s out there can give you a crucial leg up in your civilian career. But you need to take some time to do the research and figure out which ones may best benefit your particular situation.
State budgets are being squeezed just like the federal government’s budget — in some ways, even mroe so. Depending on a particular state’s funding situation, some of these types of programs come and go. The best strategy is start wading into this area several months before you plan to separate. Again, the first step is as simple as contacting your local Labor Service Office to speak to a veterans’ representative about programs your state may offer.
Steven Maieli is the founder of TransitioningVeteran.com, which highlights links to federal, state, for-profit and nonprofit veterans benefits and other resources. He also writes a blog on transitioning veterans’ issues at www.transitioningveteran.com/wordpress. Send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.