BELLAIRE - The Ohio State Legislature being out of session has not stopped state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, from keeping busy.
Gentile stopped by the Belmont County Veterans' Office Monday afternoon for a quick meeting to detail a piece of legislation he is ready to introduce in Columbus.
Titled the Ohio Veterans Opportunity Act, the legislation is primarily aimed at helping veterans, regardless of age, receive academic credit for training and experienced they've gained while working in the military.
"We want to try to find a way to award veterans academic credit for work they've already done," Gentile said. "The legislation asks our state institutions of higher education, for both two- and four-year programs, to develop policies and procedures to find a way to award academic credit for military training."
Gentile noted that a lot of colleges and universities across the Buckeye State are already doing this to some extent. This is designed to emphasize its importance to those that are, and to get the ball rolling at those that aren't, he said.
In addition to the main focus, the legislation has four other key tenets that Gentile touched on:
Establish a program that creates colaborative relationships between student veterans and alumni to link veterans with prospective employers;
Develop a model for training counselors, academic advisers, etc., to make sure veterans' academic needs are being met;
Training a faculty member at each college or university to act as a liaison and contact person for veterans;
And to provide collegiate faculty members with sensitivity and awareness training to better deal with issues veterans are facing, like post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues.
"We thank our veterans, honor them and want to make them a priority in the state of Ohio," Gentile said. "If they choose to go back to school to pursue some kind of coursework, we ought to recognize the work they've already done through their service."