Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer
A measure to give military men and women the ability to apply for private-sector jobs prior to separation with their branch of service passed the state Senate unanimously today and will become law with the governor’s signature. The idea for House Bill 1537, co-sponsored by Reps. Steve O’Ban and Jan Angel, was brought to the lawmakers by a local veteran.
House Bill 1537 would move up the timeframe service members could apply for and be considered for civilian jobs and receive the preferential benefit before their service ends. This change would allow service men and women to accept a job in the private sector prior to their separation from the military and would potentially eliminate months of unemployment for our service members. This changes current law, which requires the service member to be fully separated from the military before receiving the preferential hiring benefit.
“There will be thousands of service members who will be searching for work as troop levels are lowered and budget reductions take place,” said O’Ban, R-Pierce County and father of two sons serving in the United States Army, one of whom is graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in June. “Allowing our service men and women to apply for a job before they leave the armed forces is absolutely the right thing to do. It’s just one more way to extend a helping hand to those who serve us so valiantly.”
Pierce County is home to roughly 88,000 veterans and countless military men and women who are still serving the country.
“With federal sequestration cuts beginning to take effect, I think this bill is more important than ever, because some of our service men and women could be returning home earlier than expected,” said Angel, R-Port Orchard. “We need to give them as much support as possible toward transitioning to a civilian life, and that includes providing a head start toward gainful employment, which this legislation would do.”
The bill will now be forwarded to the governor for signature. The 2013 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn April 28.