‘Hiring’ Heroes Act’ Focuses on Reducing Veteran Unemployment Rate

Photo and Story by Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC

The unemployment rate for young military veterans has climbed as high as 27 percent in recent months – far higher than the national average of about 9 percent.

That’s spurred both of Alaska’s U-S Senators to sign onto a bill that would help vets get jobs when they leave the service.

The legislation, named the “Hiring Heroes Act,” would require broad job skills training for all service members returning home.  Washington State Democratic Senator Patty Murray is the main sponsor.  She warned at a press conference outside the Capitol today that without action, America’s veterans risk being left behind.

Alaska’s Democratic Senator Mark Begich is sponsoring a range of legislation aimed at easing the transitions of veterans leaving the war zone and returning to civilian life.  But he says making sure vets can get jobs is a crucial piece of the puzzle, so they can provide for themselves and their families – and find self-worth.

Begich and other Senators were joined at the legislation’s launch by Eric Smith, a two-tour Iraq War combat veteran from Baltimore, Maryland, who can’t find a job.  Smith served in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman, but has been told by hospitals he doesn’t have the right civilian certifications.  He pointed to one job at a hospital that was far less rigorous and difficult than his Navy service, but he still didn’t get it.

The Vets bill would start studies to identify the equivalent between military and civilian certifications and skills.  It would also provide training, counseling, and other services for vets as they look for jobs.

Photo: Navy veteran Eric Smith saw two tours in Iraq, but couldn’t find a job when he returned to civilian life in the U.S.  He appears outside the Capitol Wednesday flanked by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), and Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) to talk about legislation that would help vets get jobs when they leave the service.

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