To combat ongoing high unemployment among American veterans, U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and U.S. Representative Tom Petri (R-WI), Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, today introduced bipartisan legislation to create transportation jobs for American veterans.
"The brave men and women who have put their lives on the line in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere deserve to be at the front of the line rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges here in America when they return home," said Rahall. "Our veterans are highly-skilled, have demonstrated enormous leadership, and the best way we can support our troops and veterans is by creating jobs for them when they come home. This bill would help veterans transition from the war zone by creating job opportunities for them in the work zone."
Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, more than 2.2 million Americans have served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 40,000 have been wounded, and nearly 6,000 service members have died in service to our country. Thousands more have been deployed to serve our Nation overseas. Despite the incredible sacrifice of these brave Americans and their families, many are confronted with the difficult reality of our struggling economy when they return home.
"Our war veterans are a small part of the population who have taken on a heavy burden for all of us. We owe them a tremendous debt," said Petri. "By providing them job preference in highway and transportation projects, we are affirming that we are honoring that debt. It is important to thank veterans for their service, but we need to thank them with deeds as well as words."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released data showing that the unemployment rate for veterans who served in the military at any time since September 2001 -- a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans -- is higher than that of the general civilian population. To address the crisis facing many of those who sacrificed so much for our Nation, legislation unveiled by Rahall, the "Mobilizing Opportunities for Veterans Employment Act" (H.R. 3473 - The MOVE Act), would provide veterans the opportunity to continue to serve our Nation by rebuilding our deficient transportation infrastructure.
"America's veterans exemplify sacrifice and commitment to duty. They deserve, and have more than earned, an opportunity to continue their service increasing our national defense by improving our economic competitiveness," said Rahall. "Many of our veterans are already trained and equipped with the skills necessary to rebuild our transportation systems yet their expertise is wasted while they struggle to find work. Instead of rebuilding other countries, it is in the interest of all Americans to put these veterans back on the job outbuilding other countries."
Last year, the Federal Government invested nearly $52 billion in our Nation's highways, bridges, and public transportation systems. The MOVE Act would ensure that veterans receive an opportunity to work on these vital construction projects.
Specifically, the MOVE Act would:
* Require state departments of transportation and other recipients of Federal-aid Highway funds to ensure that the contractors they utilize for capital projects give hiring preference to veterans to perform any construction work under the Federally-funded contract.
* Require public transit agencies and other recipients and subrecipients of Federal transit funds to ensure that the contractors they utilize for capital projects give hiring preference to veterans to perform any construction work under the Federally-funded contract.
The MOVE Act is supported by organizations representing millions of veterans, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and American Veterans (AMVETS).
"The American Legion is very concerned about reducing the ongoing high unemployment among veterans of all of our nation's conflicts. This legislation will provide veterans opportunities for employment due to this veterans preference requirement," said Fang A. Wong, National Commander of the American Legion. "More importantly, for veterans of the current wars, this construction work will allow them to continue their service to their country by rebuilding our national infrastructure which is similar to the nation-building missions they participated in during their military service."
"AMVETS is especially supportive of this legislation because it will, in part, help to address the unemployment crisis currently being experienced by so many American veterans and provide veterans with the opportunity to continue to serve our nation in rebuilding our crumbling transportation infrastructure," said Diane Zumatto, National Legislative Director of AMVETS.