Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) today introduced legislation to improve programs that provide employment and job training preparation for separating servicemembers.
The Veterans Jobs Act (H.R. 5712) builds on existing transition assistance programs operated by the Department of Labor in cooperation with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and Disabled Transition Assistance Program (DTAP) offer a multi-day workshop conducted at military installations to help veterans look for jobs, prepare resumes, and learn interview techniques. The Veterans Jobs Act authorizes a pilot program that would allow local business leaders to act as mentors for separating servicemembers going through those programs.
"In this economy, creating jobs for all who want them must be our first priority, and our veterans deserve to be at the top of the list," said Congresswoman Baldwin. "Local business leaders can offer invaluable, ongoing support to troops re-entering the civilian workforce. In many parts of the country, they're an untapped resource we should develop," Baldwin said.
"Unemployment continues at stubbornly high rates for all Americans, but it remains particularly high among our servicemembers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Kinzinger. "Servicemembers receive some of the best training across a range of jobs and are born leaders. Far too often, however, they have difficulty translating their skills and experience into the civilian workforce. Working with local business leaders to provide insight and assistance on how best to market their skills is a no-brainer." Kinzinger said.
"After our veterans have fought for us so valiantly, they deserve to have a smooth transition back into their communities," said Congressman Reichert. "What better way to assist them than to involve business leaders from those very communities? By bringing the right people together, we can create opportunities that ensure success for our heroes and their hometowns," Reichert said.
The statistics on joblessness among veterans are improving, but remain unacceptable. The unemployment rate for all veterans was 7.1 percent in April 2012 and the jobless rate for Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans was 9.2 percent. In Wisconsin, the unemployment rate for veterans is 15%, in Illinois, 9.5%, and in Washington, 10.3 %.
"Employment is one of the VFW priority goals for 2012," said Stephen Pepper, Veteran's of Foreign Wars, Department of Wisconsin, Iraq/Afghanistan National Veterans Committee. "The Veterans Jobs Act will help prepare separating servicemembers for the job market and develop relationships with would-be mentors. In turn, employers will hire people they know to be reliable and right for the position. I am grateful to Congresswoman Baldwin and Congressmen Kinzinger and Reichert for sponsoring this important legislation and look forward to working with them to advance it," Pepper said.