This article by Leo Shane III originally appeared on Military Times, the nation's largest independent newsroom dedicated to covering the military and veteran community.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A White House initiative designed to break down credentialing and training barriers for veterans seeking better employment is adding health care to its list of targeted careers.
Officials from Task Force Movement on Aug. 30 announced the new effort during a presentation at the annual American Legion conference in North Carolina. The project will aim to fill some of the estimated shortfall of 2 million health care posts across America with veterans and military spouses through new hiring, training and outreach efforts.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a lot of the problems within our larger society,” said Emily Haas, senior advisor on health care issues for Task Force Movement. “Primary care physicians, nurses and general health professionals have been experiencing burnout. The pipeline of replacements is not what it used to be, and retention is really difficult.
“It’s an unfortunate perfect storm, of need versus a shortage in workforce,” she added. “So, we see an opportunity for personnel with skills coming out of the military, and for military spouses that have the skills and education but just don’t have the support or pathways right now.”
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Task Force Movement was launched in April 2022 with a focus on getting more veterans into the trucking industry, in response to an increasing need for additional drivers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic across America. That work expanded late last year to include cybersecurity jobs, another sector with a growing need for trained and qualified candidates.
The task force has coordinated efforts among industry leaders, government credentialing groups and outside advocates to find ways to ease certification requirements and speed training options for veterans interested in both fields.
Veterans advocates have hailed the work for emphasizing not just the value of hiring veterans but also helping to transition military family members into high-demand careers.
“We’re trying to solve the pain points that all of America is feeling right now,” said Patrick Murphy, former Under Secretary of the Army and chairman of the task force, at the Aug. 30 announcement in Charlotte.
Nursing accounts for nearly half of the healthcare professionals shortage. Task force officials said they’ll look for ways to fill that through new training programs, more targeted hiring of military family members with existing training, and long-term planning with industry leaders on personnel management.
Murphy said they also hope those taking up health care roles will focus on military and veterans health issues, particularly mental health care.
“Every day we lose 17 of our veterans to suicide,” he said. “Launching today is not just about filling jobs with good professionals, but also what we can to amplify those challenges like veteran suicide and let people know that they can make a difference.”
The task force released a report on the trucking industry’s best practices, hiring challenges and recommended community improvements last spring. Officials hope to develop a similar roadmap for health care employment in coming months, following meetings with corporate leaders, education leaders and veterans advocacy groups.
More information on the task force is available through their website.
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