Standing with student veterans at Syracuse University, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Charles E. Schumer today announced bipartisan legislation to help provide education and job training for young veterans throughout Central New York and streamline certification processes for civilian jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that in 2011, more than 12 percent of veterans who have served post 9/11 were unemployed, and the senators' plan ensures that the federal government does not turn its back on our nation's young veterans, like those at Syracuse University, when they return from war.
Last year, Senator Gillibrand hosted a roundtable with local business and veterans leaders to discuss innovative ways to address veterans' unemployment in Central New York. As a result, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer 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 Senators Gillibrand and Schumer are proposing legislation that would make training classes more accessible in Central New York communities, protect and enhance 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."
"A job is one of the most important parts of a veteran's return to civilian life, and the federal government should be making it easier, not harder, for vets to land good-paying jobs," said Senator Schumer. "As tens of thousands of veterans return to Central New York from Iraq and Afghanistan, it is critical that the number one priority is finding those heroes a good-paying job. That is why we are proposing this legislation, which would help make job training classes more accessible to Syracuse-area vets, enhance the education benefits for veterans under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and streamline the hiring certification process that often bogs down veterans when they return home and search for work. This multi-pronged proposal will play in an important role in connecting returning veterans with local employers and job training, and will ensure that the thousands of veterans in Central New York, who have sacrificed so much for our country, are not left behind."
"Senator Gillibrand and Senator Schumer have been steadfast advocates for veterans, particularly when it comes to providing better access to education, job training and employment," said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner. "I support their efforts to advance new legislation that will benefit veterans in Central New York and across the country."
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. This legislation would ensure that only accredited universities can offer higher education to veterans, and that they do not take advantage of GI Bill benefits at the expense of the student. Additionally, the bill calls on state agencies to conduct greater outreach activities to veterans to assist veterans in making informed decisions on their education. 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 and Schumer are 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. For instance, under this proposal a returning veteran that drove an armored vehicle while in combat would not be required to fulfill a federal certification process in order to get a job as a truck driver once they return home. 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.
In June 2011, Syracuse University launched the nationally-focused Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), a historical first in the context of higher education. The IVMF designs, develops and delivers world-class educational and vocational programs for veterans, their families and community stakeholders, including faculty and staff in higher education. The institute leverages what higher education focus on teaching and training, in order to develop programs that provide veterans and their families with the skills needed to be successful in work and life. The IVMF at Syracuse University acts as a bridge between veterans, military families and industry, government, NGO programs positioned to create employment and vocational training opportunities. The institute provides resources and support services to veterans and their families to identify and pursue employment opportunities by leveraging skills and experiences gained during military service and new skills and knowledge gained post-service.