Gov., lawmakers announce jobs legislation for troops, veterans and their families

Adjutant General and DMVA Director Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers

Before Veterans Day, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, senior state department officials and members of the Michigan Legislature on Tuesday announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation that aims to make employment for military personnel, veterans, and their families easier.  

State Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R-Independence Twp.), Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek) and Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) are primary sponsors.  

“Our dedicated military service members put their lives on the line for our families, and we have a duty to ensure their support when they return home,” said Whitmer during a virtual news conference. “That means making sure they have paths to good jobs so they can sustain their families. Today’s legislation will help us do just that. Clearing the path for our military service members, veterans, and their dependents to enter a licensed profession will help us attract and retain talent in Michigan, and by making it easier for our military servicemembers to be licensed, we can make Michigan their home to live and work, permanently.”

Veterans Day, a federal holiday and a state holiday in Michigan, is Wednesday. Whitmer was joined by Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Director Orlene Hawks, Adjutant General and Department of Michigan Veterans Affairs Director Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, and Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) Director Zaneta Adams. 

MVAA Director Zaneta Adams

The legislation will make current military personnel, veterans, and their dependents eligible for license reciprocity in Michigan. Service members will be eligible if they hold a valid occupational license in another state, are in good standing with no pending disciplinary action, and demonstrate competency in their profession through education, training and/or work experience. LARA will determine whether these criteria are satisfied.

“This is a meaningful step we can take to honor the many sacrifices of our military families,” said Hawks. “To help attract these families to locate or stay in Michigan, LARA is committed to expediting licensure by processing completed applications within 48 hours.”

Adams, a veteran and spouse of the veteran, has experienced barriers when moving to a new location or to civilian life.

“This initiative will make a difference and go a long way to encourage those who are seeking a professional license by making it a seamless process,” Adams said. 

Anthony said that the legislation is “tailored to reflect the unique needs of military service members, veterans and their families.” 

“By streamlining the licensing process and expanding fee waivers for these individuals, we can ensure all qualified employees are connected with the jobs they need,” Anthony said.

Sen. Adam Hollier

Schroeder called the legislation an “important change.” 

“These reforms will support our military families, who have sacrificed so much to protect us, and the communities in which they live,” she said. 

Hollier, a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, pointed out that many active duty colleagues have to frequently move their entire family across the country. 

Bizon said the legislation would remove “government red tape preventing them from continuing their careers here in Michigan.”

Whitmer has proclaimed Wednesday as Veterans Day to honor the 600,000 veterans living in Michigan and approximately 20 million across the nation.

“This Veterans Day, I’d like to offer my sincere gratitude to the Michiganders who have sacrificed and served on behalf of this nation,” Whitmer said. “Service members have been on the front lines fighting COVID-19, continuing a legacy of military service in Michigan that spans 180 years. These brave men and women are the pride of this great state.”

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.