Communities Of Excellence Award

Deal praises National Guard, signs veterans bill

by Christina A. Cassidy, The Associated Press

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday praised the Georgia Army National Guard for receiving a top military award and at the same ceremony signed into law a bill aimed at helping veterans use their military certifications to obtain certain professional licenses in the state.

The Georgia Army National Guard has been recognized with a 2013 Army Communities of Excellence award in the National Guard special category. All Army National Guard organizations in 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia participate in the annual competition that recognizes those providing excellence in facilities, services and support to soldiers and their families.

The award includes a $300,000 prize to be spent in facility upgrades.

Deal said the award reflects the "hard work, integrity and commitment to excellence" of the Georgia Army National Guard's 11,000 citizen-soldiers.

During the ceremony at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Deal also signed House Bill 188 into law. Sponsored by Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, the bill creates an expedited process for state officials to consider a veteran's military experiences when applying for certain professional licenses.

"The licensure bill will better serve our returning heroes by ensuring that they move into qualified trade positions more quickly upon their return," Deal said.

The law establishes a committee to determine whether waivers should be provided to veterans based on their military experiences in licenses for electrical contractor class I, journeyman plumber, conditioned air contractor class I and utility foreman.

To qualify, veterans must apply to the state licensing board within 180 days of their discharge, and their military specialty or certification must meet or exceed the requirements to obtain a license in Georgia.

The bill also contains a provision that would grant military spouses state licenses in the same job categories if they hold similar licenses or certifications in another state and have moved to Georgia because of a military assignment.

"This is a huge opportunity for Georgia veterans and spouses of military members living in Georgia to be able to integrate fully into skilled trades without having to deal with all the red tape that people normally have to go through," Coomer said. "It will give them specific credit for the skilled trade and training they had in the military."

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Follow Christina Almeida Cassidy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Christina.



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