Standing with Westchester County veterans, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Congresswoman Nita Lowey today announced bipartisan legislation to help provide education and job training for young veterans and streamline certification processes for civilian jobs.
Last year, Senator Gillibrand hosted a roundtable with local business and veterans leaders to discuss innovative ways to address veterans' unemployment in the lower Hudson Valley. As a result, Senator Gillibrand and Rep. Lowey helped pass a bipartisan VOW To Hire Heroes Act to address unacceptably high rates of unemployment among veterans by ensuring that all troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have the necessary tools for a seamless transition from military service to the civilian workforce. This law included measures to incentivize their hiring and ease their transition into the work force. Now Senator Gillibrand and Rep. Lowey are working on legislation that would make training more accessible, protect veterans' access to education, and ease hiring processes for veterans.
"This new legislation is an important investment for our heroes," Senator Gillibrand said. "We must provide veterans with access to the necessary resources which allow them to get the education, job training and appropriate licensing that will ease their transition from military life to the civilian work force. Our veterans have earned this and it's the least we can do to give them the appropriate tools needed to be successful in their life after the military."
"Caring for our returning veterans is a sacred responsibility," said Rep. Lowey. "For all that veterans have sacrificed for our nation, we must ensure they have access to education, job training, and an easier transition to civilian life after their service is over. I am proud to work with Senator Gillibrand on fulfilling this important promise we have made to our veterans."
"Yonkers is honored to support this worthy legislation that recognizes the needs of our heroic veterans," said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. "Together with the 18,000 veterans in Yonkers, we thank Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Lowey for proposing the vital tools necessary for training and education that will enable our veterans to succeed when they return home. As long as our brave men and women stake their lives for us each day, we will continue to fight at home on their behalf."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that in 2011, more than 12 percent of veterans who have served post 9/11 are unemployed.
Make TAP Training Accessible For Veterans And Families
The VOW To Hire Heroes Act made the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) mandatory for all departing servicemembers. TAP gives veterans an opportunity to gain job training, understand their benefits, and practice skills like resume writing and interviewing. Yet many veterans never had the opportunity to take the program or want the ability to come back and receive additional training. The TAP Modernization Act would make improvements to TAP by offering classes for veterans and their spouses at convenient, off-base locations. In addition the legislation would require the Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) to integrate job search experts to teach the classes. The bill also authorizes a temporary extension of TAP benefits for three years through a pilot program in three to five states with the highest veteran unemployment.
Protect Veterans' Access To Education And Job Opportunities
The Military and Veterans Educational Reform Act strengthens the Post-9/11 GI Bill by ensuring that educational institutions receiving assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) meet commonsense requirements, including providing critical information to potential students. Additionally, the bill calls on state agencies to conduct greater outreach activities to veterans through events such as career fairs and training programs. The legislation would also streamline the complaint process for veterans who want to report instances of fraud, waste, and abuse within educational institutions to the VA and DOD. Implementing a centralized process will increase coordination between the VA, DOD and the Department of Education, which will be required to share information across agencies.
Ease Hiring Process For Veterans
Currently, veterans are held back by the bureaucratic red tape of the federal certification process that prevents them from immediately applying for jobs they are qualified for. To speed up the credentialing process for veterans and get them into the workforce sooner, Senator Gillibrand is pushing for the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act. The legislation would require agencies to recognize relevant military training and skills when certifying veterans for federal occupational licenses. Instead of spending time retraining, veterans would be able to receive a federal license if it's determined their military experience is enough to fulfill the license requirements.