U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5), Don Young (R-AK-AL), Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Mike Michaud (D-ME-2), and Bill Enyart (D-IL-12) today announced the formation of the bipartisan Veterans Congressional Fellowship Caucus. The mission of the Caucus is to increase the number of veterans working on Capitol Hill. To do this, veterans Thompson (U.S. Army 1967-1973) and Young (U.S. Army 1955-1957) will launch a new caucus fellowship program which will accept its first participants this summer.
"Our veterans are some of the most skilled workers our country has to offer," said Thompson. "They are leaders who have been tested under pressure, and they will be tremendous assets to Congressional offices. As a veteran, I understand we have a responsibility to help those who've served our nation find a job when they return home. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in officially launching this bipartisan caucus that, through our new fellowship program, will work increase the number of veterans working on Capitol Hill and provide our heroes with new skills to help them excel in the civilian workforce."
"When I first took the oath of office in 1973, nearly three-fourths of Congress -- both House and Senate -- was made up of veterans; now, it's barely 20%," said Congressman Don Young. "As a whole we can do nothing about who the American people elect to represent them in Congress, however, we do have a say in the type of people that serve on our staffs. I am proud to help found this new veteran fellowship program with my good friend Congressman Mike Thompson, and hope that it encourages our nation's veterans to become more actively involved in our political system. Our veterans have dedicated so much to serve this great nation and I am confident this program will give them the skills and resources needed to continue their service on Capitol Hill."
"Our veterans make incredible sacrifices for our country, and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to help these honorable men and women transition into the civilian workforce," said Michaud. "Through their service, veterans gain a wide array of skills that will make them integral parts of Congressional offices. This program benefits not only our veterans, but Hill offices who stand to gain talented and motivated fellows."
"As former Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, I've seen firsthand how difficult it can be for our veterans to join the civilian workforce. I am pleased to join the caucus, and more importantly, I'm honored to be promoting such an important issue. My office employs military service men and women, and with the new Veterans Congressional Fellowship program, we'll continue to do so," stated Congressman Bill Enyart (IL-12).
"When it comes to giving veterans a chance to land a good job and achieve the American Dream, Congress should be leading the way. Nearly one third of House Committee on Veterans' Affairs majority staffers wore the uniform prior to their time on the Hill, a fact of which I am extremely proud. Our committee will continue to make an extra effort to hire veterans, and I urge all of my colleagues to do the same." -- Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
According to a recent survey by HillVets, an organization for veterans in politics and government, the latest confirmed count of veterans working on Capitol Hill is 98 veterans out of approximately 6,060 Capitol Hill employees. 55 percent of Congressional offices responded to HillVets' recent survey. By extrapolating a similar proportion of veteran hires to the non-responsive offices HillVets projects that no more than 178 veterans are working in personal offices on Capitol Hill.
To increase the number of veterans working on Capitol Hill, the newly formed bipartisan Veterans Congressional Fellowship Caucus has created a fellowship program that will provide them with the resources and skills necessary to bridge the gap between military service and legislative work.
Veterans who are interested in applying for the fellowship program can apply here: http://mikethompson.house.gov/constituent-services/veterans-fellowship-program.
Veteran fellows will be placed in participating offices, participate in an educational curriculum where they will learn the legislative process and how to assist constituents dealing with federal agencies. The fellows will be provided a certificate at the end of their fellowship highlighting their completion of the program.