Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) along with House Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and House Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity Mike Levin (D-Calif.) introduced on Thursday, legislation to provide veterans with training for in-demand jobs to help veterans who are unemployed due to COVID-19.
In 2019, the veteran unemployment rate was 3.1%, but following the COVID-19 pandemic, veteran unemployment rose to 11.7%, totaling more than one million veterans currently unemployed. This legislation would provide additional funding to current training programs and create a rapid re-training program and other wraparound transitional programs to provide unemployed veterans and reservists with benefits to pursue training in high-demand occupations and train them for careers following the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have made great strides to lower the veteran unemployment rate, and last year we saw the lowest rate in nearly 20 years," said Chairman Moran. "Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a setback in veterans' employment. The Veterans Economic Recovery Act of 2020 will provide retraining opportunities to help our veterans and their spouses find meaningful jobs so they can provide for themselves and their families. These men and women, who have raised their right hand to serve, deserve no less during this crisis that we are facing."
“With veteran unemployment on the rise, it’s critical that we expand resources to swiftly get these folks trained and back to work,” said Ranking Member Tester. “The reality is that the coronavirus hasn’t spared our nation’s servicemembers—and we’ve got to work twice as hard to make certain these men and women get the support they earned during their service. That’s why I’m introducing the bipartisan Veterans Economic Recovery Act, to strengthen existing retraining job opportunities and establish new resources to get veterans employed and back on their feet. Veterans dealing with the devastating, economic consequences of the pandemic need to know that the government is in their corner—and I’ll continue working hard to ensure they aren’t left behind during this crisis.”
“The men and women who have served our country are entrepreneurs, engineers, teachers, and so much more, but like most Americans, the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for them and their families,” said Rep. Levin. “It’s unacceptable that we now have over a million veterans unemployed, and we need to step up to help get them back to work. With more support for retraining, education, and transition assistance, America’s veterans can lead the way as we work to recover from this pandemic. Under Chairman Takano and Ranking Member Roe, our Committee is determined to help every veteran thrive in their post-service careers, and our Veterans Economic Recovery Act sets out to achieve that goal.”
“America’s veterans are dedicated, talented, and hard-working leaders in their fields, as employers around the world can attest,” said Ranking Member Roe. “That is why the veteran unemployment rate reached its lowest level in modern history earlier this year. Unfortunately, veterans - particularly young veteran women - have not been spared from the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 virus and by our national response to it. I am introducing the Veterans Economic Recovery Act today to rapidly retrain those veterans so that they have the knowledge and skillset they need to successfully transition from military to civilian life, quickly reenter the workforce, and thrive in the post-pandemic economy. We have perhaps no greater calling than the calling to help those who have served live their version of the American dream once they hang up their uniforms. This bill will help us do just that.”