Standing with student veterans at Mohawk Valley Community College, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, 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 Mohawk Valley. As a result, Senator Gillibrand 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 is 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."
"Like many community colleges, meeting veterans' educational needs is a significant part of MVCC's tradition. The needs of our proud military men and women are greater than ever. So we are working harder and smarter than ever to promote their success in college and to connect them with career options for successful transitions from the armed forces to the civilian workforce," said Randall J. VanWagoner, Ph.D., President. "Legislation that makes education for veterans more efficient, more accountable, and more focused is well aligned with our mission and we look forward to expanding the support we can provide to students who have served."
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. said, "I strongly believe that all of us who enjoy the blessings of liberty and our way of life have a very clear obligation to assist our veterans in making the transition back to our community. Getting the right training for the right jobs is an important way that we can do that. Mohawk Valley Community College has already shown a commitment to work with our local veterans and help them acquire the education and training needed for success. I applaud Senator Gillibrand for her package of legislation on behalf of our veterans. Working together, we can help our veterans and their families overcome barriers they face due to the stress and hardships of veterans' service to our country."
State Senator Joseph Griffo said, "When Congress passed the "GI bill" after World War II, it helped create a generational transition for our returning vets leaving active service to go into the workforce and institutions of higher learning. Senator Gillibrand has co-sponsored legislation in the Senate that stays true to that spirit of acknowledging the debt to armed service personnel and their families. I commend her and the other bi-partisan sponsors of these bills, for their work to help ease the transition for our veterans serving us abroad and here at home."
"Our veterans come from the most highly trained and lauded military organizations in the world. When these heroes return from service they should not be met with undue hardships while looking for a civilian career. Attaining an advanced degree is one of the greatest tools one has when looking for employment in today's workforce. The senator is supporting some sensible solutions to make educational resources more readily available to veterans. These measures will make our veterans feel welcomed home and give them the support they need to combat today's record high unemployment rates," said Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R,C,I-New Hartford).
"This legislation will significantly help veterans who leave the service, and enroll in college or job training programs," said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica.) "It is important that veterans receive the support they need to access GI Bill benefits, and to select the college which offers programs that are best suited to their skills and interests."
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 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 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.