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Public Statements

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BROWNLEY of California. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to bring the House's attention to an important issue.

The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, also known as VRAP, which has helped our veterans retrain to develop the skills they need for jobs of today, expired on March 31. I had planned to offer an amendment today to reauthorize the program and provide funding for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program. However, I understand the amendment would have been subject to a point of order. Nevertheless, this critical issue is deserving of the House's attention.

As a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, I know well the struggles our unemployed veterans face on a daily basis to reenter the workforce. In my home district in Ventura County, where I am proud to represent Naval Base Ventura County, we have a large community of veterans who have sacrificed for our country and who deserve every effort we can to ensure they receive the training they need to find the jobs they deserve, especially after the recent recession.

It is deeply disappointing that the 113th Congress has allowed this critical job training program to expire. VRAP helps veterans who are no longer eligible for the GI Bill to get the training they need at community colleges and technical schools in high-demand occupations. One such veteran who is being helped by VRAP is my constituent, Jonathan Pascua. Jonathan is a first-generation Filipino American from Oxnard who served in the United States Marine Corps from 1995 to 2013.

As an Active Duty marine, he handled telecommunications on a vessel in theater during the Iraq war supporting his brothers and sisters who landed ashore. When Jonathan was preparing to retire from the Marine Corps, he learned about VRAP through their education benefits class and signed up for the program. He is currently a full-time student in Oxnard majoring in business management and is scheduled to graduate in 2015.

As a result of VRAP's expiration, Jonathan may not be able to afford to continue. That would be devastating for Jonathan and a tragedy for our country. That is why I introduced H.R. 4149, the bipartisan Help Hire Our Heroes Act, which has gained support from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Association of the United States Navy.

Despite the obvious need for reauthorization of this important program and this body's solemn obligation to serve our veterans as they have served our Nation, my bill has still not been brought forward for a vote. My amendment would have ensured that this critical program continue, and I am disappointed that I was unable to offer it here today.

The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program has succeeded in helping many veterans retrain and find employment, and it should not have been allowed to lapse. Because our veterans, like Jonathan, were there for us, it is our duty to be there for them. Therefore, I urge the leadership of this Chamber to quickly bring forward legislation that will extend the VRAP program and help our unemployed veterans.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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