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Public Statements

Letter to Cassandra Mitchell, Grant Officer, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training Service


Location: Washington, DC

Last week, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) pressed the Obama Administration to fund workforce training for Minnesota's veterans in a letter to the Department of Labor, urging the agency to accept Minnesota's application for a Veterans' Workforce Investment Program grant to fund the Services for Employing Returning Veterans in Minnesota (SERV-MN). The program is designed to help veterans successfully transition into the civilian workforce.

"Minnesota's veterans and their families sacrifice so much for our country, so it's our duty to do whatever we can to help them find a job when they come home," said Sen. Franken. "Minnesota has long been a leader in supporting our veterans, and this grant would enable our state to continue that leadership by offering necessary job training to veterans so they can easily transition into the civilian workforce."

"Minnesota's unemployment rate for veterans is disconcerting, ranking #3 in the nation," said Bonnie Elsey, Senior Administrative Officer at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. "Post 9/11 vets are experiencing a 12.1% unemployment rate in Minnesota compared to a 5.3% overall. Minnesota has applied for the Veterans Workforce Investment grant to attack this issue and build the collaboration necessary to maximize the use of all resources. The grant will augment existing services by providing the essential resources and supports necessary for veterans to secure the jobs they deserve."

The SERV-MN program would provide transitioning and recently returned veterans with one-on-one professional career coaching and case management resources to help them navigate the workforce training options available to them. These options include skills assessment, skills training, on-the-job training, education, and job placement.

The SERV-MN program aims to:

Increase the number of veterans who complete a post-secondary education program and earn credentials for careers;
Increase the number of veterans who obtain employment in a career field related to their skills;
Increase the number of veterans who enter and retain employment after six months; and
Reduce the cost of post-secondary education as a result of helping veterans identify tuition assistance programs for which they are eligible.
You can read a copy of the Sen. Franken's letter here:

Cassandra Mitchell, Grant Officer
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training Service
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room S-1325
Washington, D.C. 20210

RE: SGA # 12-02 (PY 2012)
Veterans' Workforce Investment Program (VWIP)

Dear Ms. Mitchell:

I write in strong support of the application of Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and its partners for a Veterans' Workforce Investment Program grant for its proposal, Services for Employing Returning Veterans in Minnesota (SERV-MN).

SERV-MN is an innovative project that is based on the successful FastTRAC (Training, Resources, and Credentials) model that provides greater synergy and maximizes limited resources between the state's One Stop Workforce Centers and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. The proposed use of "navigators" will provide expanded one-on-one guidance and career coaching that will increase the likelihood of successful education and training completion for our returning veterans. Additional case management and career coaching assistance will be invaluable in working through issues of reintegration into civilian life for these brave men and women who have served our country so well.

Minnesota recently welcomed home over 2700 mobilized members of the National Guard, adding to our state's population of transitioning and recently separated veterans. It is Minnesota's intention to provide them with the best services and training we can offer to demonstrate the gratitude we hold for their sacrifices on behalf of all of us. The opportunity for employment in high growth industries with career ladder potential will provide greater future security for these returning service members and veterans and their families.

Minnesota has long been a leader in supporting our returning service members, and this grant would enable our state to continue that leadership. Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, or if there is any other assistance I can provide, don't hesitate to contact me, or Jeff Lomonaco on my staff, at (202) 224-5641.


Al Franken
United States Senator

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