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Transition To Civilian Economy: Bill Would Aid Servicemen And Women

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Baltimore native and Iraq veteran Eric Smith speaks on Capitol Hill about the difficulties he faced in getting employment in medical field, despite years of combat training as a Marine corpsman.
Armando Trull
Baltimore native and Iraq veteran Eric Smith speaks on Capitol Hill about the difficulties he faced in getting employment in medical field, despite years of combat training as a Marine corpsman.

Veterans advocates say the soldiers aren't being properly prepared to make the transition and civilian employers are unable to certify some of the soldier's training. Congress may soon change this.

Twenty-six-year-old Eric Smith from Baltimore served two tours in Iraq as a Marine corpsman, tending wounded and injured comrades. He thought he'd be able to get a job as a nursing assistant when he left service in 2008 , he was wrong.

"Graduation from Naval Hospital Corps School in which I was trained and years of experience provided me with no certifications that translated into the civilian world," Smith says.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington has introduced a bill requiring specific training for those leaving the military and a mechanism for soldiers to acquire civilian certification for military training and experience.

"We have invested billions of dollars in training our young men and women with new skills to protect our nation only to ignore that investment and them when they leave the military," Murray says.

At the Pentagon City Metro, most of those in uniform who spoke asked that their names not be used. A private and sergeant both agreed with the need to better prepare servicemen and women to transition into the civilian work force, a transition some are now fearing.

The training bill has bipartisan support in the Senate. The Pentagon has not commented on the measure.

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