Washington, D.C. – With 13.3 percent of recent veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan unemployed across New York State as of June 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is making a new push to pass the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, legislation that would equip all returning U.S. troops with critical job-skills training and ensure more job opportunities for veterans.
The legislation seeks to help create new jobs for returning veterans through increased job training, personal employment assessments and changing federal hiring practices. The legislation would equip all returning U.S. troops with critical job-skills training through the government’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which provides job-search techniques and resume and interviewing workshops.
“Too many of our troops who risked their lives protecting our country return home to an alarming rate of joblessness,” Senator Gillibrand said. “We must combat this growing crisis and leverage our talented pool of veterans by providing them with a pathway toward economic success. When our brave men and women return, we need to ensure they are equipped with valuable job skills and open doors to employment opportunities.”
Based on BLS data, an estimate of more than 8,000 recent veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed across New York State as of June 2011.
• In the Hudson Valley, an estimate of nearly 1,000 recent veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed.
To combat the rising joblessness among young troops and provide them a roadmap to employment, Senator Gillibrand is pushing for passage of the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, which would require all departing service members to get job training skills through the government’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which provides job-search techniques and resume and interviewing workshops. According to the Department of Defense, up to one-third of service members currently do not participate in the voluntary program, led by the Labor Department in partnership with the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Additionally, the bill would enhance the TAP program by providing each veteran with a personal assessment of their employment opportunities based on their service experience. After training, federal agencies would also be required to follow up with veterans on their job search – within six months of the training program and every three months after leaving service for the first year. This information would be used to improve the effectiveness of the TAP program and increase the quality of job training available to exiting service members.
To boost the number of jobs for returning service members, the bill would change federal hiring practices that allow soldiers to begin the federal employment process before they leave the military and encourage hiring of more service members. The bill would also create a competitive grant program for non-profits that provide mentorship and job training programs in an effort to boost job placements with private-sector companies.
And to make the transition easier for service members who already have technical skill sets, such as driving a military ambulance, agencies would also have to identify ways to eliminate barriers in moving from military employment into civilian jobs.
According to the Department of Labor, more than 20 percent of young veterans nationwide between the ages of 18 and 24 were unemployed in 2010.