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Public Statements

Veterans Transitioning to Civilian Life

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. HOCHUL. Mr. Speaker, exactly 2 months ago, I was in Afghanistan breaking bread with our troops, and I asked them, What is your biggest worry? What keeps you awake at night? I thought it had to be the Taliban lurking in the nearby mountains. Well, it wasn't. Their biggest fear--and I heard this over and over--was the fear of coming back to this country and not finding a job.

At this point in our country, over 30 percent is the rate of unemployment for recently returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. That is absolutely unacceptable. We've taken some steps in Congress. The tax credit for employers is a good start, and I introduced the VETS bill, which will help veterans receive professional certification for the training and skills they've already acquired abroad.

I also want to recognize that the VA and DOD are recognizing that we need to do much more to help these individuals transition into civilian society. In fact, tomorrow we are having a joint hearing with the Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs Committees to address these matters.

As I told many veterans groups, we didn't get it right after Vietnam. We have to do so much more to help them reintegrate into society and help them heal their wounds. I say instead of just giving them a thank-you, let's give our veterans a job.

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