Today, the Obama Administration challenged each of the 8,000 Community Health Centers around the country to hire one veteran, effectively opening up 8,000 jobs to our unemployed vets. These health centers, which provide primary care services in typically underserved areas, are a major piece of President Obama’s historic health care reform law.
Veterans who are committed to serving their country and their communities are well suited to serve in a number of capacities at community health centers, both in administrative and care-providing positions. Yet many former military medics who want to work as nurses, physician assistants, or in other health care jobs when they leave the military are often not given credit or credentials for the skills they developed while serving.
Health centers are also an integral source of local employment and economic growth in many low-income communities. Thanks in part to support from the Affordable Care Act, health centers across the country have added more than 18,600 new full-time positions since the beginning of 2009, many of them in the nation’s most economically distressed communities. Jobs like these are crucial to the health of our economy.
In order to fast-track former military medics into jobs in community health centers and other parts of the health care system, today the Health Resources and Services Administration pledged to open up career-paths into a variety of health care jobs and expand opportunities for veterans to become physician assistants. Through this initiative, HRSA will give priority in physician assistant grant awards to universities and colleges that help train veterans for careers as physician assistants.
We can’t wait any longer to help our unemployed veterans find jobs. The initiatives announced today aren’t a replacement for the bold steps we need to strengthen our economy for the long-term, but our problems are too serious, and the stakes are too high to do nothing. While President Obama will continue to work with Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, piece by piece, he will increase his focus on executive actions like this one that helps our veterans because the American people simply can’t wait.