One of the first things you learn when entering Basic Combat Training in the U.S. Army is about picking a battle buddy. This is the person who has "got your 6" or "got your back" both in training and in war. And the relationship of battle buddy doesn't end with your time in service either.
I have been out of the Army since October 2004 and in October 2005, when I gave birth to my first child, my battle buddy was sure to be there for me, flying to Pennsylvania from Wisconsin. As our lives continue to grow and change, my battle buddy and I remain in contact.
Now as I take on the challenge of running for U.S. Congress, my battle buddy has been a rock of support in my decision. She is still serving in the National Guard, is attending law school, and is working as a social worker. She is one of the hardest workers I know.
But this should be any surprise to anyone. Veterans are some of the most dedicated, committed, and responsible, employees companies can hire. We learn many skills in the military that translate well into the civilian workforce. But unemployment among veterans who served after September 11, 2001 is more than 12 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These men and women put their lives on the line to protect the citizens of the United States of America and they should be given a shot to put their skills to good use. Yesterday Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced three pieces of legislation that will help unemployed veterans to help do just that.
The first bill, the Veterans Skills to Jobs Act would require employers to recognize the certificates from the military. The second bill would expand the existing Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to locations off of military bases which would open the program up to more veterans and their families. And the final bill; the Military and Veterans Educational Reform Act would make sure some institutions of higher education don't abuse the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The bill would change it so that only accredited universities can accept money from the federal program.
As I write this I think to all of the men and women I served with: my battle buddy, my husband, and our friends. They are all in different stages of life- some are still serving on active duty, some are working and raising families, several are attending college, and yet others are unemployed and unsure of the next step. Each one of these bills would help every one of them to keep a job or get a job. I think it is time that we all start treating each other like a battle buddy. Let's look out for one another- let's look out for our veterans as they have looked out for you.