U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Johanns (R-NE), and Patty Murray (D-WA) this week introduced the Post-9/11 Veterans' Job Training Act to include job training and apprenticeship opportunities for post-9/11 veterans. Eighteen percent of veterans who have left service in the past one to three years are unemployed, almost double the unemployment rate.
"When our soldiers sign up for service, there isn't a waiting line and there shouldn't be a waiting line when they come home and need a job," said Senator Klobuchar. "Not every returning soldier chooses to go to college but they still want a job. Job training, from pipe-fitting to law enforcement, should be covered by the G.I. Bill."
"The unemployment rate of our returning service members is a concerning sign that we are not doing enough to help them assimilate into their communities once they have completed their tours of duty," Senator Johanns said. "They are more than deserving of our greater efforts to get them back on an even playing field in the job market. This legislation expands upon and improves the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, and will lead to more veterans getting jobs more quickly when they come home."
"Too many of our veterans have served our country only to come home to unemployment and financial struggles. The G.I. Bill the President signed this year opened the doors to higher education for veterans but in these tough economic times we need to expand that opportunity to include jobs skills and workforce training," Senator Murray said. "Yesterday our nation recognized the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families, the bill we are introducing today honors them with the skills and resources to help them succeed long term."
The current regulations for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill state that veterans cannot use their new educational benefits to pay for an apprenticeship or on-the-job training program, and the benefits can only be applied for "programs of education" with a curriculum or combination of courses at an approved institution of higher learning.
The proposed legislation would add job training and apprenticeship programs to the list of available programs under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, and allow veterans to use their educational benefits to obtain workforce training and experience. The VA will be responsible for establishing a process for administering these benefits under the overall Post-9/11 G.I. Bill program. Once a veteran has applied for his or her G.I. Bill benefits from the VA, they will be able to enroll in on-the-job-training and apprenticeship programs and use their benefits to pay for:
Monthly housing costs (based on a percentage of the full-time GI Bill rate: 75% for the first six months, 55% for the second six months, and 35% for the remainder of the training program)
Certification and testing fees
Relocation and travel expenses, and