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Mrs. HALVORSON. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I would also like to thank the gentleman from Tennessee, Chairman Gordon, for his very hard work on this very important legislation that will spur innovation, modernize our manufacturing base, and prepare our workforce for the next generation of good-paying jobs.
I rise today in support of my amendment to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. My amendment is very simple. It will help expand career opportunities in science and engineering for veterans of our armed services. As the only Member from my State that serves on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I am proud to stand up for the brave men and women who have served our country and our military. It is important for us to stand up for them not only when they are on Active Duty, but also when they return home.
Unfortunately, too many of our veterans have difficulty finding jobs when they transition back into civilian life. With the veterans' unemployment rate at about 13 percent, well above the national average, we need to do everything we can to provide veterans with career opportunities. The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act establishes a new postdoctoral research fellowship program at the National Science Foundation. This program will award competitive, merit-based research fellowships for up to 3 years to graduates who have recently completed a doctoral degree in a field supported by the foundation. My amendment will instruct the director of the foundation to give consideration to the goal of promoting participation by veterans when evaluating applications.
Many of our Nation's veterans specialize in science and engineering fields during their service in the military, and some of them even had the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees in these fields during their service. Others choose to continue their education in science and engineering by pursuing doctorate degrees after they leave Active Duty. My amendment will help these uniquely qualified veterans build careers in science and engineering by encouraging them to compete for the new National Science Foundation postdoctoral research fellowships established by this bill. When our veterans ask for the opportunity to continue serving their country in the next generation of jobs, we should give them that chance, which is what my amendment seeks to do.
Once again, I thank Chairman Gordon and his staff for working with me on this amendment, and I ask for the support of my colleagues.
Madam Chair, I reserve the balance of my time.
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