LEGISLATION IN SUPPORT OF DESIGNATION AND GOALS OF HIRE-A-VETERAN WEEK -- (Extensions of Remarks - February 14, 2005)
HON. RUSH D. HOLT
OF NEW JERSEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2005
Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, as our Nation honors and supports the ongoing efforts of our troops in Iraq and prays for the safety of all of our uniformed men and women still in the Gulf, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, now is also an opportune time for Congress to do more to help our Nation's new and old veterans in need. To this end, I am joined by my distinguished colleague, U.S. Representative HENRY BROWN, in introducing bipartisan legislation to urge the establishment of a "National Hire-A-Veteran Week." Our legislation also urges a presidential proclamation calling upon employers, labor organizations, veterans' service organizations, and Federal, State, and local governmental agencies to employ more veterans.
In spite of the best efforts of the U.S. Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs, imposing barriers continue to impede many deserving veterans from securing employment and achieving self-sufficiency. Just this week, I read a disturbing article by Alexandra Marks that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor and is entitled "Back From Iraq-And Suddenly Out On The Streets." It should alert all of us to the grim reality that veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are now showing up in our Nation's homeless shelters. I submit this article for entry into the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD at the conclusion of my statement.
Sadly, many veterans struggle to find jobs, even with some opportunities for increased training and education offered through government programs. Little more than half of our Nation's veterans are employed today According to the 2000 census, for example, nearly 20 percent of Gulf War veterans are unemployed.
Moreover, it is troubling and shameful that so many of our veterans who risked their own lives in support of our country can't find jobs and must endure homelessness and lives of poverty after they return home. Indeed, American veterans comprise one-third of the homeless male population in America; while an estimated 250,000 veterans live on our city streets. In fact, the number of homeless Vietnam War veterans today exceeds the number of service persons who died during that war.
Mr. Speaker, even as we tend to the well-being of our men and women currently on active duty, we cannot forget those who have already served their country and deserve more assistance in moving to the next phase of their civilian lives. A presidential proclamation of "National Hire-A-Veteran Week" would provide an effective and more focused way to do more to help all of our veterans find good jobs and ensure better living standards for themselves and their families. I hope that all of my colleagues will support this legislation and will take one more step to help repay the debt we owe to all of our Nation's defenders. I also hope it can be promptly enacted and signed into law during this session of Congress. [From the Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 8, 2005]