New paths being developed for military health workers to transfer skills to civilian life
When veterans who worked as medics return home, their experience does not translate to an easy job most of the time.
The lack of job crossover requires they start back at square one. However, Wisconsin law is changing and it could open a lot of doors for people in this situation.
The Wisconsin Military Medics and Corpsmen Program (Wis-MAC) is a first of its kind in the nation.
It gets rid of some of the red tape for credential and license requirements and gets former military medical workers quick access to medical schools and hospitals back here in the States.
"For them to be able to come home and continue to do that and feel valued in the community - for what they did in the military, for getting that job right away and then showing that we care enough about them to help them continue that education. I mean, that's huge," said Laura Hanoski, Heroes for Healthcare Founder and CEO.
Kelly Wheeler served for about seven years with the Navy as a medical worker doing a variety of tasks from dispensing vaccines to assisting in surgeries.
She is the program's first participant and works at the UW Health-Cottage Grove Clinic as a Medical Assistant Technician.
That is three days per week and for another two days she goes to school where she is studying to become a nurse.
So far so good, she says.
"Going straight into a job, it was great," Wheeler said. "I didn't have any down time looking for a job or going to get a certification for it. It's been so helpful."
Her ultimate goal is to become a labor and delivery nurse.
Her job with UW Health has given Wheeler her first opportunity to work with children.
While the schooling and practice has to be done in Wisconsin like Wheeler is doing, once you have your credentials, that opens up more options.
"However, Wisconsin is a compact state, so if you get a Wisconsin license, you now have a license in about 32 states for nursing for example," Hanoski said.
In order to qualify for the program, you need to have had medical training while serving and cannot have more than a year gap from when you were discharged.