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Begich Pushes for VA Approval of UAS Maritime Worker Program


Says Training Program Should be Approved for Veterans, Would Create Jobs

U.S. Senator Mark Begich is demanding the federal Veterans Administration (VA) reverse a bureaucratic finding and approve an application by the University of Alaska Southeast to establish a program to teach ship-building skills for a budding new Southeast Alaska industry.

In a letter yesterday to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Begich requested that the VA review and quickly approve a twice-denied application by UAS to have a new Maritime and Multi-skilled Worker credential program in Ketchikan recognized by the VA.

The program is a 12-week general training course for the marine industry, including ship building and also reduces the sea time needed to meet the requirements for Qualified Marine Engine Department certification by the Coast Guard.  The program is expected to help our universities prepare veterans for good-paying jobs for Alaskans.

“To deny veterans a chance to be part of this dynamic and growing sector of the Southeast Alaska economy is shortsighted, unfair, and wrong,” Begich wrote.

Noting that the Coast Guard-approved program was developed by UAS in cooperation with potential employers like the Alaska Marine Highway System and Vigor Industrial – the biggest shipbuilder in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, Begich said, “The denial reflected a lack of understanding of the employment situation in Southeast Alaska and the needs of both employers and veteran job-seekers alike.”

Begich also noted that, as a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, he has made it a priority to honor the nation’s commitment to its veterans, including by supporting workforce training options.

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