By Peter S. Gaytan
Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) has proposed aggressive new legislation to deal with the growing rate of unemployment among veterans. Today, more than one in four veterans aged 20-24 is unemployed. The bill, Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, will require all separating servicemembers participate in the Transition Assistance Program, and provide broad job skills training for all servicemembers returning home.
The proposed bill will also create new direct federal hiring authority so that separating servicemembers can begin the federal employment hiring process prior to separation which will mean that more vets will have jobs waiting for them when they leave the military.
The bill would also create a competitive grant program for nonprofit organizations that provide mentorship and job training programs that are designed to lead to job placements. It will require the Department of Defense, Department of Labor, and VA to jointly contract for a study to identify the equivalencies between certain military occupational specialty-related skills and civilian employment. It allows the Department of Defense to create a pilot program to provide paid work experience with civilian employees and contractors to facilitate the transition for servicemembers that are 180 days from separating. It would require the Department of Labor, Department of Defense, and VA to collaborate to eliminate barriers between military training and civilian licensure or credentialing for several military occupational specialties. It will require the Department of Labor to periodically check with each veteran to determine if he or she is employed and whether the veteran is interested in further assistance. It will also continue programs that provide rehabilitation and vocational benefits to severely wounded servicemembers.
For more information on the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, go to: http://murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=0ea542fe-c8c9-4d9a-ae4d-bc67ffa0f909
Peter S. Gaytan is the author of For Service To Your Country – Updated Edition: The Essential Guide to Getting the Veterans’ Benefits You’ve Earned (Citadel, 2011), available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. He has served as an advocate in securing and protecting the earned benefits of America’s veterans for more than a decade. Gaytan is the Executive Director of the American Legion, the largest veterans service organization in America.
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