October 24, 2013 – Fort Sam Houston, TX Military Spouse Hiring Fair and Career Forum
October 29, 2013 – Knoxville, TN
October 30, 2013 – Sandy, UT
November 1, 2013 – JB Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, DC
November 5, 2013 – Bossier City, LA
November 5, 2013 – Morristown, NJ
November 7, 2013 – Burlington, VT
November 7, 2013 – Fort Bragg, NC - Military Spouse Hiring Fair
November 7, 2013 – Lancaster, CA
November 7, 2013 – New Orleans, LA
November 7, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA
November 8, 2013 – Anchorage, AK
November 11, 2013 – Des Moines, IA
November 12, 2013 – Augusta, GA
November 14, 2013 – Atlanta, GA
November 14, 2013 – Portland, ME
November 14, 2013 – Seattle, WA
November 14, 2013 – Portland, OR
November 15, 2013 – Warwick, RI
November 19, 2013 – Kansas City, MO
November 20, 2013 – Melbourne, FL
December 2, 2013 – Norfolk, VA Military Spouse Networking Reception
December 3, 2013 – Norfolk, VA Military Spouse Hiring Fair and Career Forum
December 3, 2013 – Fort Indiantown Gap, PA
December 4, 2013 – Parkersburg, WV
Job fairs are helpful. They are far from the only thing that can be done. Yesterday, Senator Sherrod Brown's office issued the following:
TOLEDO, OH – With the unemployment rate among recent Iraq and Afghanistan veterans nearly double Ohio’s overall employment rate, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, outlined a plan today that would reduce unemployment among recently-returned servicemembers and ease their transition into the civilian workforce. While service members acquire significant training and skills in the military, often these talents are not transferred easily into civilian employment credentials.
“Veterans who serve their country in order to protect our freedoms deserve every opportunity to find work when they come home,” Brown said. “They are among our most talented civilians, but are too often unable to get credentialed for the training they’ve received. That is why I support the Troop Talent Act of 2013, which would ensure a clearer and easier path to matching military skills with civilian accreditation. It is the right thing to do for our military men and women and would strengthen our country’s workforce while lowering its unemployment rate.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for Afghanistan and Iraq veterans in Ohio is currently 13.9 percent, almost twice the rate for the rest of the state. Nationally, the number of veterans receiving unemployment benefits has more than doubled since 2002, rising from 44,810 to 89,725 in 2012.
At today’s event at the University of Toledo’s (UT) Military Service Center, Brown outlined how the Troop Talent Act of 2013 would help veterans better utilize the skills they have acquired in the military to find full-time employment when they transition back to civilian life. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Improve the translation of military skillsets to civilian credentials or licenses by providing earlier and more frequent information to servicemembers—during their military careers—about earning a civilian credential that matches their specialty training. The bill would also encourage the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to provide more information to credentialing organizations about military training and education to better ensure that specific military skills receive appropriate civilian credentials.
- Prevent credential fraud by establishing strict standards for programs that guarantee a credential after successful completion. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would also reestablish a committee to ensure efficiency, productivity, and legitimacy in the credentialing process for both servicemembers and taxpayers.
- Increase access to high-demand career fields for servicemembers by expanding the current DoD credentialing program. DoD has established a pilot program that attempts to match the skills of servicemembers for various jobs and fields including aircraft mechanics, automotive mechanics, health care professions, supply and logistics personnel, and truck drivers. The bill would expand the program to include information technology (IT), one of the fastest growing fields in the country with a high demand for skilled workers.
“The University of Toledo has been recognized as a military friendly school for four consecutive years, and we remain committed to helping our veterans with a successful transition from military service to the classroom and beyond,” Ghanbari said. “We are proud of where we are, but understand that there is much more work to be done. The Troop Talent Act of 2013 is an essential piece of legislation to help ensure the training and experiences of our service members seamlessly transfer to post-service employment.”
Brown was also joined by Sean Baney of the Navy Reserves, who despite extensive medical training during his service, was still required to take college coursework to receive his certification. He is currently serving as a Helicopter Medic for ProMedica.
The final participant in today’s press conference was Donald Hill, a local Navy veteran and the owner of the locally produced Brickyard Sloppy Joe Sauce.
“When I returned from Afghanistan, I was hopeful to use my real-world experiences as a Navy Hospital corpsman,” Hill said. “Much of my training, and the skills I used every day to help save lives in a combat zone, simply didn’t transfer for jobs such as EMTs.”
Brown is the only Ohio Senator to serve a full term on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is Co-Chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus. He is also an original cosponsor of the VOW to Hire Heroes Law, which offers job retraining assistance to veterans between 35 and 60 years of age.
During an August press conference in Toledo, Brown called on the VA to make immediate and necessary changes in order to eliminate its backlog of, at the time, 500,000 claims filed by disabled veterans and their caregivers for services and benefits they earned. Brown announced a plan to prevent and reduce the backlog by working to pass two key pieces of legislation, the Veterans Services Outreach Act and the Claims Processing Improvement Act.
Senator Brown isn't the only one noticing the continuing backlog. Lucy Nalpathanchil (WNPR) reports:
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee , spoke about the backlog challenges outside the VFW in East Hartford. He said the VA takes more than four months to process 57 percent of claims submitted. "Four-hundred-twelve thousand claims are backlogged," he said, "more than 1,000 here in the state of Connecticut. So to put it bluntly, the U.S.A. is failing to pay and process claims it owes these men and women who've served and sacrificed."
Brown and Blumenthal both serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee which has a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, October 30th. On the issue of the backlog at the VA, WTNH (link is text and video) reports:
27-year-old Michael Scavetta, of Wethersfield, served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After two years of waiting, his benefits application was denied.
He's now been waiting a full year for his appeal.
26-year-old Jordan Massa, of Bristol, served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, received the Purple Heart, and after two years of waiting his application was approved, only to be delayed another month because of the federal government shutdown.
"I was actually told that the two years that I waited was very quick and that startled me that two years was considered fast for receiving benefits when you're coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan," Massa said.
Of course, in a functioning environment, the VA would be called out for much more than the veterans benefits' backlog.
There's also a backlog when it comes to answering Congress. As the House Veterans Affairs Committee notes:
VA is currently sitting on nearly 100 separate requests for information made by the committee, some dating back more than a year. The leisurely pace with which VA is returning requests – and in some cases not returning them – is a major impediment to the basic oversight responsibilities of the committee.
VA’s unanswered questions have created mounting frustration for committee members, and prompted Chairman Miller to take the unprecedented step of writing weekly letters to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki listing the number of outstanding information requests and asking for “accurate information in satisfaction of these requests.”
Notable Outstanding Info Requests:
- July 10, 2012: Request for data on VA mental health hiring practices
- September 20, 2012: Request for info on VA conference spending practices
- January 2013: Request for all VA documents and emails from 2007- present regarding legionella bacteria or Legionnaires’ disease within the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
- February 19, 2013: Request for a list of performance standards VA providers are required to meet when providing mental health care
- June 13, 2013: Request for clarification regarding the breach of VA’s computer network
Number of Outstanding Requests: 107
Three Oldest Outstanding Requests: June 5, 2012; July 10, 2012; and July 23, 2012
Requests Pending since 2012: 12
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.