Let me start by thanking Senator Manchin and Senator Brown and the dozens of members who've signed on to this important caucus.
And I want to salute every member of Congress -- Republicans and Democrats -- who fought through the partisan gridlock last year to enact the Vow to Hire Heroes Act.
The tax incentives Congress approved are an important way to encourage companies to tap the enormous talent of men and women who've served in our armed forces. But our work isn't over. It's just beginning.
For Senate offices that have hired veterans, thank you for leading by example. At the Department of Labor, we've proudly made the commitment to fill critical positions with veterans. My department currently employs 3,187 veterans, including a dozen managers.More than half of our vets are service-disabled. And they are some of the most incredible members of my staff.
It's no secret in Washington that many of the most dedicated, dependable and driven public servants once wore the uniform. If this caucus succeeds, I believe we can replicate this level of success in the private sector.
Employers can win in two ways. Companies that hire veterans will get first-class employees who can drive productivity gains. And they'll get a leg up over their competition with the American consumers.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective, and I think this caucus has really hit on a brilliant idea with "I Hire Veterans." If the stamp becomes a recognizable brand -- that companies can put on their front door, on business cards, and in ads -- the American people will respond with their wallets.
I'm confident of that.
The patriotism I've seen in communities across this country inspires me. When Americans see local businesses doing right by our vets, they'll do their patriotic duty and support those companies. Each year, 160,000 active duty Service Members transition out of the military and another 95,000 are demobilized from the National Guard and Reserves.
We ask so much of our military personnel: to put their careers on hold, leave their loved ones behind and embark on dangerous missions across the world. Our service members who fight to protect our freedoms shouldn't have to fight for jobs when they return home. They deserve a hero's welcome and a chance to use their unique skills to help re-grow our economy
I've said it before, and I'll say it again here: The most important thing employers can do to honor our veterans is hire them. We know that there are special challenges facing many of our veterans.
More than 3 million of our 21 million vets have a service-connected disability, but many of these men and women can and want to work. With modest accommodations, they can be vital contributors to our economic growth.
We're proud to be the lead agency charged with helping American veterans find good jobs and rewarding careers. We have many effective programs to help put our veterans back to work.
Our VETS division has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce through our "Hiring Our Heroes" initiative. Together, we've hosted more than 100 job fairs. These fairs already have helped more than 8,500 veterans and their spouses find jobs.
Through our "Jobs for Veterans" state grant program, we've funded 2,000 veterans employment specialists in communities across the country. They reach out to local businesses every day and make the case for hiring vets -- and then help employers recruit veterans to fill open positions.
We also host transition assistance workshops. For all of their battlefield skills, our service members haven't been prepared adequately to market themselves when they return stateside.
Approximately 145,000 veterans have gone through our workshops to learn how to do just that. We also run the federal government's only program to assist homeless veterans. More than 75,000 vets go to sleep on our streets and under our bridges on any given night.
Our homeless veterans' reintegration initiative helps 16,000 vets a year --
and 6 in 10 find jobs after going through our holistic program. Our Veterans' Workforce Investment Program provides personalized services to those with a service disability or other barriers to employment.
Also, we have three relatively new resources for veterans:
* Our Veterans Gold Card Initiative;
* Our "My Next Move" website; and
* Our Veterans Job Bank.
One of our most exciting new programs is our Veterans Gold Card initiative. Every post-9/11 veteran can go to the DOL website and download a Gold Card. This card entitles them to six months of intensive job counseling and personalized case management at one of my department's 3,000 One-Stop Career Center locations nationwide.
These services include career assessments, direct referrals to open jobs, interview coaching, resume assistance and training referrals. We're excited about the Gold Card, because veterans who get one-on-one job assistance have much greater success in launching civilian careers. The website is www.dol.gov/vets
Second, the Labor Department recently launched a new website called My Next Move for Veterans. It allows our veterans to enter in their military occupation code and discover civilian jobs where their skills translate. Or they can enter a specific career field and browse more than 900 career options.
If you're a veteran and you want to change jobs, this website can help you, too. You can enter in your dream job, and the site will walk you through the steps that will help prepare you for these careers. My Next Move also will tell you local institutions that offer training or apprenticeships that can help vets get on-the-job experience. The site can be accessed at MyNextMove.org/vets.
Finally, we've partnered with the White House, the DoD, and the VA to create a nationwide Veterans Jobs Bank. This is a one-stop resource on the web with hundreds of thousands of
private-sector job opportunities targeted specifically to veterans. The Job Bank can be accessed at www.nrd.gov. This website also includes resources help wounded, ill and injured service members with recovery and rehabilitation.
We're committed to helping our veterans recover so they can get back to work. So the National Resource Directory has compiled resources on everything from health benefits to job training programs to transportation, housing and family caregiver support.
My message today to America's veterans is simple: We're committed to you. The fact is, your skills, your experience and your dedication are crucial to America's recovery. We have many resources that can help you find rewarding careers in the private sector.
President Obama said it well:
"If you can save a life in Afghanistan, you can save a life in an ambulance. If you can oversee millions of dollars of assets in Iraq, you can help a business balance its books here at home."
So thanks to the members of this caucus for working to serve our military families as well as they've served us.