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Public Statements

Disabled Veterans and Other Persons with Disabilities

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I am happy to join my friend from Nebraska in bringing this very important issue to the attention of the Senate.

As my good friend has mentioned, the provisions contained in the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 have created a unique opportunity to advance the futures of returning patriots and other persons with disabilities, while improving the fiscal outlook of our country.

A little over a year ago, the U.S. Army established the Disabled Soldiers Support System, or DS3, to provide its ``disabled Soldiers and their families with a system of advocacy and follow-up to provide personal support that assists them in their transition from military service into the civilian community.'' The program has been combined with the Recovery and Employment Assistance Lifelines, or REALifelines, initiative as a joint project of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Bethesda Naval Medical Center, and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The joint effort aims to create a seamless, personalized assistance network to ensure that seriously wounded and injured servicemembers who cannot return to active duty are trained for rewarding new careers in the private sector.

In employing the new private debt collection provisions of the American Jobs Creation Act, private collection agencies would be in the unique position of being able to provide these veterans with well-paying and challenging jobs. Studies in the Worker's Compensation industry point to heightened degrees of vocational success when return to work efforts occur early. It is important that our returning disabled servicemembers be reincorporated into a stable work environment as soon as possible so that they do not become depressed and develop feelings of uselessness.

As the Senator has stated, some have expressed concern due to the selection process currently underway. Therefore, I agree with him that it is best not to offer this language at this time.

But notwithstanding, Senator Nelson of Nebraska and I plan to work to find the appropriate legislative vehicle to attach language that will mandate the hiring of persons with disabilities prospectively. I urge my fellow Senators to join me in supporting this effort. This is an innovative and cost-effective plan for increasing employment of disabled veterans and other disabled citizens. We owe it to our service men and women to improve their futures any way we can.

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