HIRE A VETERAN WEEK -- (House of Representatives - January 30, 2007)
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Mr. HOLT. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I want to thank my colleagues for allowing this bill to come to the floor. I want to thank my partner in the bill, Mr. Brown of South Carolina, for his work and support on the measure, and also the chairman and ranking members of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and the Armed Services Committee.
The bill calls upon the President to establish a permanent ``Hire a Veteran Week'' to help promote employment of veterans in a more concentrated fashion. Last year the House passed this bill by a voice vote. The bill enjoyed overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle because all of us understood that we had a lot more to do to help our veterans find jobs, start businesses on their own and get ahead as employees; and we still do have much more to do. I am grateful that the House leadership has allowed this bill to come forward today.
One of the reasons I am glad we are doing this is, we need to change the paradigm of how we think about veterans. Too often we spend a couple of days a year, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, thinking about veterans. But for too many Americans, these have simply become additional days to go shopping instead of recognizing the courage, the service, the sacrifice of those who have worn the uniform of our Nation, and that needs to change.
Since September 11, 2001, America has been creating the largest new pool of veterans since the Vietnam era. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have passed through Iraq and Afghanistan, including tens of thousands in our Guard and Reserve. All of these veterans are returning home and many, many of them, need help in obtaining and sustaining employment.
The most basic thing we can do is remind employers on a regular basis that veterans make great employees. It is not just that we owe it to them, although we do. It is not just that it is a matter of fairness, although it is. It is also that they are good workers with real, very real, life experience.
Some companies are making an effort to do this. One of them, in my district, Facile Corporation, has offices at Fort Monmouth, also in Camden, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Washington, Arlington, Colorado Springs and in, Madam Speaker, the State of California as well. Facile is a diversified company providing a range of services to military and civilian clients, information technology services and so forth.
But what makes this company special for me is the fact that 26 percent of its workforce nationwide is comprised of veterans. This didn't just happen. The employer made a conscious and conscientious effort to do so, to hire these veterans.
Last November, just before Veterans Day, I had the privilege of meeting with employees of Facile and learning how this effort to hire veterans truly was a win/win proposition for the company and for the veterans. I came away more convinced than ever that we need to institutionalize that kind of outreach, which is why I am proud to cosponsor this bill with a number of other colleagues here.
We face many difficult days ahead. Those wearing the uniform of the United States, the various uniforms who are serving in harm's way to defend us, face many difficult days ahead. They should not face more difficulties when they come home. One thing we can all agree on is that we need to give our veterans every opportunity to achieve the American Dream. That is the point of this legislation, to create the Hire a Veteran Week and to encourage the President to support the goal of Hire a Veteran Week.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
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Mr. HOLT. Madam Speaker, I yield myself the balance of our time.
Madam Speaker, I thank those who have spoken today. I, too, thank the staff of the majority and minority on the Veterans' Committee for preparing this legislation.
Madam Speaker, our veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq will require a range of services and assistance in making the transition back to civilian life. We will take up many issues related to those veterans. We will take up issues of war and peace here on the floor.
In the meantime, we should remind all employers, both in the government sector and in the private sector that hiring veterans is a smart choice. Their discipline, their work ethic, their prior service to our Nation make them excellent employees. I know. I have a couple working for me. They are superb.
We should pass this legislation for Hire a Veteran Week because we owe it to those who have borne the battle. We owe it to our country. Employers owe it to their stockholders and their clients and their customers, and they owe it to themselves.
I urge my colleagues to support this legislation that I hope will become a reality soon so that we will have a Hire a Veteran Week in America.
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