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Mr. WALZ of Minnesota. I thank the gentleman from Virginia for his support of this bill and other veterans issues.
First of all, I'd like to thank the gentleman from California. Mr. Denham's service in uniform to this Nation is to be commended, and his service to our veterans has been unwavering.
He's right, we've worked on this a long time. I had the opportunity on numerous occasions to travel downrange to visit our veterans, the last one with my good friend from California (Mr. Denham), and the care and concern that he showed listening to his veterans of what they need, listening to them talk about this. One of the things on the minds of our veterans, as they're fighting downrange defending our freedoms and doing what's asked of them is how are they going to be able to take care of their family when their service obligation ends.
So Mr. Denham came back, and working and reaching across the aisle, and working over in the Senate, crafted a piece of legislation that's not only morally the right thing to do, taking care of our veterans--you hear a lot about the 99 percent and the 1 percent. There's truth in that: 99 percent of us enjoy the benefits of security and national defense while 1 percent provide it. So the moral obligation of providing this is pretty much unquestioned, but the thing that I think Mr. Denham looked into on this is making sure the economic impact was felt also.
And on this, I think this is very important to keep in mind: We spend $140 billion a year training our military. That's an investment into those folks. When they finish their career, whether it be a stint of 4 years or whether it's a 20- or 30-year career, they come out with incredible skill training, with incredible professionalism, and they are a very mature workforce. Why would we not want to get our best and brightest back working in the economy? These are entrepreneurs. These are the folks that can get things done. This piece of legislation was crafted in such a way to do exactly that.
Implementation of concurrent credentialing has no undue burden on the military nor on its readiness. In fact, opportunities for credentialing will be a selling point for our military. You can come out and move directly into a job as an aviation mechanic or whatever it may be.
I'd like to mention just quickly here, in my State of Minnesota, an average Active Duty servicemember with an aviation mechanic or avionics occupation will have attended over 18 months of training and had a minimum of 4 years of practical experience. A certified aviation maintenance technician school costs $20,000 a year. So we've invested. We have a trained mechanic, but we're going to have them come back, have them be unemployed, have them try and use their GI Bill--which is Federal dollars--to get the very same credentialing that they had when they left at a time when we need to put them into the job. So in Minnesota, Thief River Falls is the only place you can get this. We're asking folks to line up and get positions that they don't have enough spots for. It makes no sense.
So I'd like to thank the gentleman for a commonsense piece of legislation, for a piece of legislation that addresses both our moral and economic need. And I'd also like to say, Mr. Speaker, as the Members in this House see, we can work together to solve problems. We can understand--and on this issue--the sacrifice that our servicemembers made so that we could have the honor and the privilege of self-government and stand here and debate the country's business. We owe it to them to conduct ourselves in a manner that's reflective of their sacrifice and service.
And I would like to congratulate the gentleman from California for bringing that type of comradery, that type of can-do spirit, and that type of willingness to compromise to get things done for the good of the soldiers.
With that, I urge my colleagues, support this legislation. Let's get it passed.
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