November 11, 2013

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin teams up with lawmakers to establish hiring veterans act | State Journal

With Veterans Day on the minds of many, lawmakers are trying to ensure veterans and service members get the help they need finding a job.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., along with Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus co-chairs Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., representatives Jeff Denham, R-Calif., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., introduced the "United We Stand to Hire Veterans Act," a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would streamline and consolidate duplicative government job portals to better connect current and former members of the armed services with future employment.

"Our veterans are some of the most disciplined, reliable, hardworking and dedicated individuals in the world," Manchin said. "They are trained to strive for excellence and exceed expectations every day.

"It makes zero sense that our veterans find it difficult to search for jobs when they return home."

Kirk said he believes Americans owe everything to those who make the ultimate sacrifice wearing a uniform in defense of their country.

"In honor of their sacrifices, we should provide every available resource to help our returning heroes' transition to civilian life and enter the workforce," Kirk said. "This legislation will make it easier for veterans to take advantage of government employment services with the ultimate goal of getting a high-quality job."

Statistics cited by Manchin's office show veterans returning home from the Middle East face an unemployment rate that is 3 percent higher than the national average. The Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs operate duplicative portals aimed at veterans and service members searching for public and private sector employment. No requirement currently exists for government agencies to consolidate these services.

That's where the United We Stand to Hire Veterans Act comes into play.

The act would require the consolidation of each department's online employment services into a single portal across the federal government within on year. The basic function of portal would remain the same: connect veterans and armed service members with public and private sector employers seeking to hire people with military experience.

The Caucus engages executive branch agencies, educational institutions and the private sector to help identify ways to reduce the unemployment rate of the nation's approximately 21 million veterans.

Among many of the businesses dedicated to hiring veterans, Starbucks announced last week its plan to develop a "comprehensive hiring platform for veterans and active duty spouses in response to record growth and in anticipation of a 500,000 person future global workforce.

"We are humbly indebted to their commitment, every day, and have never lost sight that the freedoms we enjoy are due in no small part to the sacrifices our veterans and their families have made over the years," the coffee conglomerate said in a statement.