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NAEMT's Military Relations Committee Chair Chlapek Testifies on Behalf of Veterans to Congressional Subcommittee

Jul 11, 2012

On behalf of military veterans, and representing NAEMT, Ben Chlapek, Deputy Chief, Central Jackson County Fire Protection District, Blue Springs, Mo., is testifying today to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health at a hearing entitled “Helping Veterans with Emergency Medical Training Transition to Civilian Service.”

The focus of the hearing will be on H.R. 4124, the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2012, legislation that would assist states in streamlining their certification requirements for veterans with military medic training who want to continue their career as EMTs or paramedics in the civilian workforce.

Chlapek is a paramedic and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who served 36 years, with tours in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Central America, and multiple other countries. He holds undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Fire Science and two Masters degrees in Public Administration and Homeland Defense and Security. He has served as faculty at Louisiana State University. He serves on numerous national, state, and local committees including the Missouri Governor’s Advisory Council for EMS and as the Chair of NAEMT’s Military Relations Committee.

In his testimony, Chlapek states that the hearing is extremely important in developing policies that honor the training of military medics so they can smoothly transition into the EMS civilian workforce and provide their valuable medical skills to communities across the U.S. “Military veterans receive some of the best medical training and experience available when serving our country. Their sacrifices, commitment to duty, and ability to get the job done in austere environments make them exceptionally well suited for working as EMTs and paramedics in our communities upon their release from the armed services,” Chlapek says. Chlapek details cases of work-ready veterans being stymied by varying and prohibitive requirements even though they are more than qualified to serve as civilian EMS professionals. View Chlapek's full testimony here.

Congressmen Adam Kinzinger of Illinois (R-11th) and Congresswoman Lois Capps of California (D-23rd) introduced the bipartisan bill H.R. 4124 this past March to address veteran transition issues. The legislation continues to achieve bipartisan support of 13 Democrats and 17 Republicans. H.R. 4124 provides demonstration grants to states with shortages of EMS practitioners to help streamline state requirements and make allowances for returning veterans to enter the EMS workforce without unnecessary duplication of their training by determining the extent to which the state requirements for education and training of EMTs and paramedics are equivalent to that of the military, and identifying methods, such as waivers, for qualified military medics to forego duplicative requirements.

Watch the hearing here: http://energycommerce.house.gov/. For more information on H.R. 4124, view the bill text and summary here: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.112hr4124.