American Legion urges Congress to give jobless veterans “proper training and tools” for new careers
Washington (April 19, 2010) – Testifying last week before a House subcommittee, an expert witness from The American Legion urged Congress to give veterans the proper training and tools to begin new careers after they leave military service.
“There are thousands of veterans available for work, but they lack marketable, technological skills, especially for jobs that exist in the information-age economy,” said Mark Walker, deputy director for the Legion's economic division. He told the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity that a key problem in helping more veterans get jobs is “clearly a lack of adequate funding.”
Another key difficulty faced by job-hunting veterans, according to Walker, is the fact that their military job training and experience cannot be used to qualify for certification and licensing in the civilian world. This means that jobless veterans must take additional training courses before they can be hired; these courses are often offered at vocational schools, which are not covered by current GI Bill education benefits.
“The American Legion supports efforts that require DoD to take appropriate steps to ensure that servicemembers be trained, tested, evaluated and issued any license or certification that may be required in the civilian workforce – prior to separation,” Walker told the subcommittee
The funding shortage Walker referred to affects civilian job training under the Veterans Workforce Investment Program (VWIP), part of the Dept. of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS). While the program's funding was increased to $9.6 million – two million more than in fiscal 2009 – that amount allows it to operate in only 15 states, according to Walker. While VWIP funding is moving in the right direction, The American Legion wants the budget baseline “increased to allow VETS to train eligible veterans in all 50 states in (fiscal year) 2011.”
Walker also testified that The American Legion “is eager to see VETS grow; and especially would like to see greater expansion of entrepreneurial-based, self-employment opportunity training…. In order for the VETS program to assist these veterans to achieve their goals, it needs to:
The American Legion supports new legislation (introduced by Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.) that would authorize $60 million for the next ten years to fund MOST (Military Occupational Specialty Transition), a program that would help veterans convert their military experience into civilian job skills.
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