Weekly Columns

Let Us Give Back To Our Nation’s Heroes

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Washington, April 14, 2010 | comments
Unemployment is a huge challenge we are facing as a nation, and recent reports from the Department of Labor regarding the unemployment challenge in the veterans’ community is beyond troubling to me. According to recent reports by the Department of Labor, unemployment for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans has tripled since the recession began, rising from 5 percent in March 2007 to 15 percent last month.

As a veteran and a Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, it is clear that we need to do something to help our veterans face the unprecedented challenge of unemployment. We need to do everything we can to provide our veterans with the jobs and the training they need. Advocating on behalf of our service members, who so tirelessly fought for our freedom, is the duty of our nation.

Recently, the House passed several key pieces of legislation, with the intention of helping our veterans find employment. Specifically, H.R. 4592 aims to establish a pilot program to encourage the employment of veterans in energy-related positions. There is also a program provided through the VA called the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment VetSuccess program. VetSuccess is designed to assist veterans to prepare for, find, and keep suitable jobs. To learn more about the VetSuccess program, please visit their website at http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/index.htm.

I am hopeful that current programs as well as new programs will help put our nation’s heroes back to work. But one thing remains clear – we need to do more to help them find the training and the jobs they need. I am committed to ensuring our veterans receive the best care, benefits and opportunities possible.

Last week, I asked the Democratic and Republican leadership on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to conduct hearings on this troubling issue so we can find ways to get our veterans back to work. I sent the following letter to Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (CA-51) and Ranking Member Steve Buyer (IN-4):

The Department of Labor released numbers today showing the unemployment rate for male veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom has tripled since the beginning of the current recession; rising to 15% in March 2010.

I am sure you share my concern that these figures are unacceptable. We have a duty to those who have served to ensure government programs designed to encourage their employment are administrated properly and efficiently with a goal of dramatically reducing veteran unemployment.

I am taking this opportunity to ask our committee to hold hearings to discuss this issue. We must determine what factors have lead to this high rate of unemployment for our veterans and what steps we can take to address them.

I appreciate you both for your leadership on our committee and look forward to participating in these hearings.

Since sending the letter, the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity is holding a hearing on Thursday to address the high unemployment rate of our veterans. We need to get to the bottom of this growing problem and make sure we are fulfilling the duty of our nation to take care of our nation’s heroes.

Please feel free to contact my office if we can be of assistance to you or your family. You can contact my office by mail, email or phone. Our contact information can be found on our website, www.roe.house.gov.
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Tags: Veterans