A bill that will assist veterans seeking employment after serving in the armed forces passed unanimously out of Government Modernization committee. “This is a jobs bill for veterans who have honorably served our country,” said Democratic Leader Scott Inman, co-author with Rep. Chuck Hoskin, D-Vinita, on House Bill 1985. “Today our state is home to more than 329,000 veterans of all ages and backgrounds, and now that military operations in Iraq have ended, men and women who have served our state are returning to jobs in the civilian world. Often times, soldiers have difficulty explaining their training and skills in civilian speak, because the methodology of military training doesn’t always perfectly align with a university degree or trade school program. Our bill seeks to assist in this endeavor so they can utilize their military training to secure jobs in our state.” In an effort to assist veterans, HB1985 will offer the opportunity in interviews to demonstrate that they acquired “transferable skills” in the service. To this end, when applying for a job and an interview is a component of the selection process, public employers must interview each veteran who meets the minimal and special qualifications for the position. At the interview, the employer will be able to better determine whether a veteran’s military education or experience produced a transferable skill that will make them a top candidate for the vacant position. “Transferable skill” means a skill that a veteran has obtained through military education or experience that substantially relates, directly or indirectly, to the civil service position for which the veteran is applying. For example, an Army infantryman receives training in the use, maintenance and storage of weapons, skills which are transferable to positions in corrections or law enforcement. HB 1985 does not create a requirement that the public employer appoint a veteran or disabled veteran to the position. “All too often, just getting an interview, or getting one’s foot in the door, is nearly impossible,” said Leader Inman, D-Del City. “My bill requires all government employers to interview each veteran who applies so long as the basic qualifications for the position are met. I believe that if we can help those who fought for us to simply have the opportunity to make their case, to discuss their education, background and skill sets, then many our veterans will be able to successfully transition from the front line to work, all the while avoiding the unemployment line.” In 2011 Oklahoma had approximately 9,000 unemployed veterans, a number which Leader Inman hopes to reduce with this measure. “By clearing the path for veterans to be hired in the field in which the U.S. military trained them, I hope we can close this unemployment gap.” House Bill 1985 is now on General Order and awaits a hearing by the full body. The deadline in which House bills must be heard in order to move forward this session is March 15, 2012.