Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Hearing Transcript on Hiring Heroes: Job Creation for Veterans and Guard/Reserve Members
HIRING HEROES: JOB CREATION FOR VETERANS AND
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
October 17, 2011
FIELD HEARING HELD IN WATERLOO, IA
SERIAL No. 112-32
Printed for the use of the Committee on Veterans'
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
For sale by the Superintendent of
CLIFF STEARNS, Florida
BOB FILNER, California, Ranking
Helen W. Tolar,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC
Pursuant to clause 2(e)(4) of Rule XI of the Rules of the House,
C O N T E N T S
October 17, 2011
Hiring Heroes: Job Creation for Veterans and Guard/Reserve
Staff Sergeant Nathaniel Rose, ARNG, North Liberty, IA
Prepared statement of Staff Sergeant
Captain Aaron L. Robinson, ARNG, Des Moines, IA
Prepared statement of Captain
Stacy Litchfield, Regional Manager, Talent Acquisition and Performance
Consulting, Deere & Company, Inc., Moline, IL
Prepared statement of Ms.
MAJ Kerry M. Studer, USA, Assistant Managing Director, Commercial Real Estate
Division, Principal Financial Group, Waterloo, IA
Prepared statement of Major Studer
Stacey May, Manager, Tax Credit Program, Honkamp Krueger & Co., P.C., Dubuque,
Prepared statement for Ms. May
Timothy J. Carson, Manager, Veterans Initiatives, Office of Diversity, Rockwell
Collins, Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA
Prepared statement for Mr. Carson
COL Benjamin J. Corell, Commander, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 34th
Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard, Johnston, IA
Prepared statement for Colonel
Mark Hennessey, Iowa Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve,
Prepared statement for Mr.
Anthony Smithhart, Iowa State Director, Veterans' Employment and Training
Service, U.S. Department of Labor
Prepared statement for Mr.
Teresa Wahlert, Director, Iowa Workforce Development, Des Moines, IA
Prepared statement for Ms.
SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
RADM T. L. McCreary, USN (Ret.), President, Military.com
Jennifer J. Suchan, Assistant Registrar and Coordinator, Veterans Student
Services, University of Northern Iowa
Question for the Record from Chairman Stutzman to Mr. Smithhart
HIRING HEROES: JOB CREATION FOR VETERANS AND
Monday, October 17, 2011
U. S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity,
Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice,
at 10:00 a.m., at Waterloo Community Schools' Education Service Center, 1516
Washington Street, Waterloo, Iowa, Hon. Marlin A. Stutzman [chairman of the
Present: Representatives Stutzman and
Mr. STUTZMAN. Good
morning. I would like to welcome everyone this morning to start this oversight
hearing of the Subcommittee
on Economic Opportunity. I want to welcome
every one of you this morning. Thanks for being here.
Delighted to be
here in Waterloo. My name is Congressman Marlin Stutzman. I am from Indiana, from the Fort Wayne area. And so, it is a delight to be here.
And I want to
especially thank your congressman, Congressman Braley, for hosting us today and
for bringing us here to the district.
I am the chairman
of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, and I
represent Indiana's Third District. And I actually have quite a few Iowa ties. And so, I was talking to my parents about the connections here, and I actually
found out that my great-aunt is actually buried just not too far from here in
Dunkerton, and my grandparents were married in Dubuque as well. And I had some
relatives that were born here in Iowa, and they made their way back to Indiana.
So it is a
privilege to be here again. My district is very similar to Iowa's First
Congressional District. We are very proud of our Midwestern values and proud
of America. So it is a privilege to be here with you all. And I know that you
are very proud of the veterans that you have here, as well as we are in
northeast Indiana, where we have about 48,000 veterans who served our Nation
from the Third District.
It is also a
privilege to serve alongside Congressman Braley. I call him a friend as well
as an advocate for veterans issues, as well as a great Member of Congress. And
so, thank you again for your service.
We are here today
to hear from Iowans about the employment difficulties facing far too many
members of the Iowa National Guard, the Reserves, and those returning from
active duty. While the unemployment rate for all Iowa veterans in September
was 5.8 percent, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 35.6
percent of America's Gulf Era II veterans ages 20 to 24 were unemployed, while
8.8 percent of Gulf Era II veterans ages 25 to 54 were unemployed.
More shocking is
information that as much as 30 percent of returning members of the Guard and Reserves
do not come home to a job. Clearly, we need to find ways to reduce all of those
The House Committee
on Veterans' Affairs has taken a first step towards that end last week by
passing House Resolution 2433, a bill that would provide up to a year of Chapter
bill benefits to unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60. The bill
now goes to the Senate, and we hope to get the bill to the President by Veterans
Day, along with several other improvements to veterans benefits.
Again, I am
delighted to be here with you today. We are anxious to hear from you all who
are going to be testifying, and at this time, I will yield to the gentleman
whose office is actually just right next door to mine as well in Washington, a
good friend, the Honorable Bruce Braley.
[The prepared statement of Chairman Stutzman
appears in the Appendix.]
Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
home. We are delighted to have you back in Iowa.
And I want to
make sure that we welcome everyone to the hearing and let you know how
important this field hearing is to the ongoing work of the Economic Opportunity
Subcommittee that Chairman Stutzman and I are proud to serve on. Our Subcommittee
literally is the point line of how we address the important challenge of
finding work for every veteran who wants to work, and it is an issue that we
struggle with every day, based upon some of the enormous challenges that the
I am very proud to
welcome all of you to my hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, home of the five Sullivan
brothers, home of the Iowa Veterans Museum, which we are very proud of, and a
city that knows about sacrifice and service.
One of the things
I tried to do to prepare for this hearing is think back on how the challenge of
finding work for veterans has affected me and my family personally. So one of
the things I brought to the hearing were my dad's discharge papers from the
Marine Corps when he came home from Iwo Jima. And it is really instructive in
how far we have come in dealing with the issue of separation of people from the
military looking for work, and yet how far we have to go.
My dad was
discharged on May 3rd of 1946 from the Marine separation center at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois. And on the back of this form, he was required
to list his employment and nonservice educational data. And I am sure that
many people in your district in Indiana filled out similar forms with similar
types of information.
summary, he wrote "drove steel-type tractor while working, a general farm
hand, works with father and brother on 240-acre farm, did plowing, cultivating,
and harvesting of crops and livestock." Under preferences for additional
training, he listed "college," which he never pursued. And under job
preference, "farming for self."
I think of my dad
as a 19-year-old Marine who had never worked outside of the home, and what he
must have been going through as he was preparing to get on that train with a
train ticket back to Grinnell, Iowa, and probably not much more than that to
help him face the enormous challenge of an unemployed veteran who was looking
to make his way in the world.
We have some Iowa veterans who are going to be testifying on our first panel about some of the
challenges they are facing, and I am very proud of the fact that we have
implemented much more comprehensive programs to help veterans preparing for
that transition to the civilian workforce. And, some of those programs have
been highly successful, but we have a long way to go before we reach the
objective that we all want to happen.
Because I think
that the thing we should be focusing on today is on imagining what it would say
about our country if every veteran who wanted a job had a job. And the bottom
line for me is the best way to thank a veteran is to hire a veteran. And what
we are going to focus on at this hearing today is ways that we can try to
bridge that gap between the civilian employment marketplace and the needs of
our returning veterans who are looking for work and unable to find it at this
So I welcome all
of you here. We want to be talking not just about how we can put together
programs through the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans
Affairs, but also how we create incentives for employers to look at veterans as
a hiring opportunity that is going to make their workplace a better place for
all their employees.
And that is why I
was proud to introduce the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act, modeled on the
highly successful Back to Work Act we had in the civilian workforce that gives
employers incentives to put an unemployed veteran on their payroll and gives
them further incentives if they keep them on that payroll for up to a year.
So I welcome all
of you. We look forward to the testimony of our witnesses, and with that, I
will yield back.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Bruce Braley
appears in the Appendix.
Thank you, Congressman Braley.
And one of the
things I just want to say quickly before we invite the first panel here is that
the reason this hearing is important to both of us is that with the economy so
-- the difficulties that we are facing in the economy right now, one of the
areas that we believe success has to happen is with our veterans. And so, this
really is an opportunity for us to highlight to our colleagues back in Washington how we can help those who are serving our country, the challenges that they are
going to be having when we have more veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
And if we can
have success here, we can hopefully translate that into success other places
within our economy. But what greater place to serve those who have served us
in protecting our freedom?
So, with that, we
want to invite our first panel to come forward to the witness table this
morning. We are joined by Staff Sergeant Nathan Rose and Captain Aaron
Robinson. Appreciate your service to our country.
Thank you for being here, first of all, and we are looking forward to your
testimony, and we want to give each of you 5 minutes to share with us your
statements. And why don't we begin with Staff Sergeant Nathan Rose
STATEMENTS OF STAFF SERGEANT NATHAN ROSE,
ARNG, NORTH LIBERTY, IOWA; AND CAPTAIN AARON L. ROBINSON, ARNG, DES MOINES, IOWA
Sergeant ROSE. Chairman Stutzman, Ranking Member Braley, and members of the subcommittee, I would like
to extend my gratitude for being giving the opportunity to testify at this
hearing today. It is an honor to lend my voice to fellow veterans in the
ongoing economic struggles we face.
My name is
Nathaniel Rose. I am currently a staff sergeant in the Iowa Army National
Guard, as well as a senior at the University of Iowa.
I have been
deployed to Iraq, and I have just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan in July. To help pay for my studies, I currently receive the GI bill, along
with State and Federal tuition assistance.
I speak based
solely on my experiences in the Iowa Army National Guard and experiences of
those that have served with me. I cannot accurately speak regarding any other
branch of service or any other State's National Guard.
I decided to join
the National Guard during my freshman year of college, looking for adventure,
but also for economic reasons. I come from a hard-working, middle-class family,
and if I wanted to attend college, I would have to pay for it myself.
I did not receive
many scholarships, and I did not want to incur a large amount of student loan
debt. So I joined the National Guard because the tuition assistance and GI bill
would pay for my education.
If it wasn't for
tuition assistance and the GI bill, I might have quit going to school or not
have joined the National Guard at all. Joining the military is a very hard
decision to make, but the benefits one might receive helped make the decision
The GI bill has
been one benefit that I have come to appreciate more over time. When I first
began receiving the benefit, it was not a large amount. This was fine because
State and Federal tuition assistance paid for all my tuition and fees, and I
could use the GI bill for other things.
deployments, I now receive a much larger amount because it is prorated based
off the active duty amount and how much time I have spent deployed. The amount
is actually enough, when coupled with my drill pay every month, that I do not
have to work. I am able to concentrate completely on my studies, which any
senior will tell you is a hard thing to do.
I, however, do
not have all the obligations that a number of soldiers I know have. I have no
wife, no children, no car payments, and so on. Many National Guard soldiers
cannot go to school full time and take care of their family with tuition
assistance and GI bill alone, especially if they have not been deployed and
receive a smaller, prorated amount. This forces them to work while attending
Now there is
nothing wrong with working while going to school, but for some soldiers I know
personally, they have had to stop going because they needed to move to full
time at work, their grades were slipping, or they weren't spending as much time
with their family as they wanted to.
The post-9/11 GI
bill has attempted to address some of these issues by paying basic allowance
for housing to students. The only problem with that is that, once again, it is
prorated for National Guard soldiers.
One solution to
this problem might be to have National Guard members pay into the GI bill like
active duty members do. Another possible solution would be to put everyone on
the same level and not prorate the payments. Neither of these solutions is
perfect, but they might be a good starting point.
benefits to me seem more complicated. If a soldier doesn't sit down with an
expert, it is hard to figure out the ins and outs of benefits. The difference
between the five GI bill programs is not easily ascertained by looking at the
Web site or reading pamphlets.
If soldiers are
better informed about their benefits, it is easier to make decisions about
whether they can afford to go back to school or not, especially those with
families. The GI bill needs to take into account that soldiers do have
families. They may not be able to support a family and go to school at the
Guard has delayed my education twice, but I cannot fault them for that because
they are essentially paying for it. Also, I believe that the National Guard
has made me a more marketable person, and when my education is over, I hope
being more marketable aids me in securing not just a job, but a career.
The problem with
this is how do I convey to potential employers the significance of what I have
done, experienced, and learned in the National Guard? Resumes are the most
popular way of conveying these things. Some of my experiences are difficult to
put in a resume.
If I put
"led over 150 combat missions in Afghanistan" in my resume, most
employers would not understand the significance of that, nor would many
soldiers know how to convert that into a resume-friendly statement. One way
soldiers could translate their skills into civilian terms would be to get help
from a resume-writing professional. I could receive help on my resume from the
career center at my school, but I feel that they don't understand what I have
done either. So the significance of it won't be conveyed in my resume if they
I am lucky enough
to go to a school that has a large veteran population. Someone is always
available to critique my resume if need be. Many National Guard soldiers are
not that lucky and must either drive long distances or email resumes to more
recruiters or resume helpers better on military may help remedy the problem but
is easier said than done. I believe that by bringing in military
resume-writing professionals on drill weekends or by incorporating them more at
demobilization sites might better help the soldiers.
I am set to
graduate in May, and I have been exploring job possibilities of what I am
qualified for. The economy may be down, but there is a plethora of job
postings on Internet job search sites, companies' Web sites, and newspapers, et
cetera. The hard part becomes determining what employers are looking for and
if I am qualified.
I have spoken to
many soldiers since returning from Afghanistan, and this process is the only
one that they are having the most trouble with. A suggestion that a fellow veteran
presented to me would be to bring the job recruiters from the mobilized units
area to the demobilization site and recruit from there.
recruiters would have a chance to speak about qualifications, job descriptions,
and even do interviews if need be. Even if soldiers did not get hired, they
would have an understanding of what employers are looking for and how to better
prepare themselves for the job search once their mobilization is over.
I appreciate what
the Government and the military have done for me, but I think more can be done
to help soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. I have noticed things
improving in my 6 years in the military, from drill to drill and deployment to
deployment. There are many new programs starting up throughout the country and
within our Government that are dedicated to helping veterans, which is a sign
of forward progress.
this concludes my testimony. I would be honored to answer any questions that
the committee might have.
Thank you for
giving me the opportunity to testify, and thank you for all the committee does
for my fellow veterans.
[The statement of
Nathan Rose appears in the Appendix.]
All right. Thank you.
Robinson, we will take your testimony.
Captain ROBINSON. Good morning. My name is Aaron Robinson. I live with my wife and
my two children in Des Moines. I am a commissioned officer with the Iowa Army National
Guard, and I have recently returned from a 1-year deployment in Afghanistan.
In my civilian
career, I am currently pursuing jobs related to project management and data
analysis. I want to share with you some of the impressions that I have had.
Is that better?
I would like to
start today with three impressions I have had looking for a job post deployment.
First, repeated military deployments have given Iowans like me world-class
skills and experiences, but these are not widely recognized or rewarded when
searching for civilian work in our home State.
are nearing the exhaustion part of their patriotic feelings towards veterans.
Despite the laws existing protecting against discrimination based on military
service, employers seem to shy away from hiring citizen soldiers.
for a job while deployed overseas is next to impossible, and waiting until
after deployment adds stress to an already stressful situation, reintegrating
with family and friends. Let me tell you where I am coming from.
I grew up on a
farm approximately an hour west of Des Moines in Yale and graduated from Perry High School in 1992. I studied mass communications at Grand View College in Des Moines. And after college, I bounced around to various retail jobs.
I enlisted in the
Iowa National Guard in 1998. I was trained as a tank mechanic. In 2002, I
continued my time with the National Guard, and I commissioned as an officer in
armor. I married my wife, Kate, in 2003 and was deployed to Kosovo. My child,
Amelia, was born at the same time.
When I returned
home, I transferred to military intelligence and attended multiple military
schools. In my civilian career, I worked as an employment counselor for
homeless veterans and as a general manager for a convenience store. After
that, I spent a number of years on temporary full-time active duty status here
in Iowa, helping train and mobilize more than 16 National Guard units for
Last year, I was
deployed to Afghanistan, where I served as the intelligence officer for the
113th Cavalry Squadron. The experiences I received there were excellent, and I
could not have received them anywhere else.
Since coming home
to Iowa in July, I have been steadily looking for work. As of today, I have been
unable to find any. I know I am not alone.
For example, an
enlisted soldier of mine that was our database manager for our security
clearances -- and that was 500 pieces of information, that is about the size of
a small company -- wasn't able to find a job. To add insult to injury, he
can't even find work in his old civilian application as a welder.
I face similar
challenges as my friend, trying to figure out how to translate my military
language into human resource speak. After some resume coaching, I found that
work in intelligence most closely applies to business analysis and project
my purely civilian counterparts, I am not necessarily versed in the latest
business acronyms and buzzwords, which increase my likelihood of getting
through HR filters. Also, while I am proficient in military computer software
and hardware, I am not specifically trained in systems most familiar to
potential civilian employers.
politicians, and even the media talk up certain ideas about veterans. They are
hard working. They are motivated, that we are mission focused and people
focused, and we handle pressure extremely well. Beyond this and the occasional
job fair and welcome home, we don't seem to get a lot of practical help getting
I had said this
many times. Everybody wants to help, but no one really seems to know how. I
have received lots of well-intended suggestions, sometimes conflicting. But
none of them have gotten me much farther in my job search.
Maybe employers are
getting burned out. Ten years of war and Iowa's river floods and blizzards and
other State emergencies might do that. Maybe they are worried that I am going
to deploy again. Maybe they really don't see the economic values inherent to
my military skills and experiences.
I know times are
tough for a lot of Iowans. I don't want to get a job just because I am a veteran.
But I would like to at least get a chance to get an interview and prove that I
am a good employee. I also want to keep my family in Iowa to give my kids the
same values and experiences that I had.
But for now, my
family's life is on hold. The military gave me time after deployment to unwind
and reintegrate and get into a normal life. I don't feel like I have done
that. I plan on going back to school. I have been putting it off because of
the lack of stability in my life and the life of my family.
don't ask me about my military experience, but they know it is there. If I
didn't put it on my resume, they would know from talking to me. I am proud of
the work I have done and some of the people I have served with. I am just an Iowa farm kid that got a chance to do some exciting things in some pretty unpleasant places
with some really great people.
I just want to
get back to my civilian life, get a normal job, and be a regular person for a
while. My wife and my kids would like that, too.
Thank you for my
opportunity to share my experiences.
[The statement of Aaron L. Robinson appears
in the Appendix.]
Mr. STUTZMAN. Well,
And I would like
to ask a couple of questions, and then Congressman Braley has some as well.
First of all,
thank you just to both of you again for your service. Your stories are very
compelling, and I am sure, as you said, there are others that have the same
stories. I grew up as a farm kid as well. So I know the background that you
have, but the challenges that you face are, obviously, very frustrating, I am
sure, to you and your family.
To both of you,
what type of transition services have you received from the Iowa National Guard
or DoD following your deployment?
At demobilization site, they give us briefings on different help that is
available, as well as overviews of that help. And then we have what is called
a "Yellow Ribbon event," where we go to more briefings that tell us
about all of the services that are available to us or if we need help where to
Captain ROBINSON. Can I piggyback on that?
Captain ROBINSON. Okay. Of course, my experiences are very similar to his. I have
had the opportunity to also talk with Iowa Workforce Development and their vet
reps out in Des Moines. They have been great.
I have talked
with JSEP. I sent my resume to them for some resume critiquing. Those are
probably the big ones.
The Yellow Ribbon
event was a really good job of putting all the information I think that you
really need to know in one spot. But if you didn't want to run it down, I
don't know if you really got it. Because a lot of people come in and say, "We
will help," but I didn't really see --
It seems like it is just more of an overview, like, "This is available to
you," but you have to go do it on your own. You have to go find it on
Well, Staff Sergeant Rose, you mention in your testimony that "a
suggestion that a fellow veteran presented to me would be to bring job
recruiters from the mobilized units area to the demobilization site and recruit
from there." Can you kind of follow up on that a little bit more and how
Well, his idea was that like since a lot of -- in Iowa, you could bring in the
companies from like Des Moines, Waterloo, the bigger areas that are actually
recruiting, and you could bring their recruiters up to demobilization site.
And then, once there, while we are going through the process of demobilizing, you
could also have them there.
So the people
that need jobs or are going to look for jobs once they come off active duty,
they could talk to them there. And then if the recruiters liked what they saw,
they could set up interviews, maybe hire from there. If not, at least people
would know what is out there, what is needed to actually get a job when they
Okay. And then, Captain Robinson, have you utilized the services provided at
the One-Stop by DVOP or LVERs? And if so, did you find these services helpful
Captain ROBINSON. I don't believe I have at this time.
Mr. STUTZMAN. Do
you know what those -- the DVOPs and LVERs were. Were those presented to you at all?
Captain ROBINSON. You know, they throw so much stuff at us in such a short period of
time that you do almost get -- it almost becomes white noise. I know what DVOP
is. I have been lucky enough to work with them on the periphery before. But I
haven't used them.
Really, one of
the bigger things I have used since I have been home is the Iowa Workforce
Okay. That is who they work for? Yes. So you should be working with
-- you say you are working with Workforce Development? That is what we call it
Captain ROBINSON. Yes, absolutely.
Okay. And then, what was your civilian job before you went on your most recent
Captain ROBINSON. Well, I went on active duty operational support back in I think it
was -- might have been '08. I was on long enough everybody thought I was
active duty. I was actually working for a convenience store.
I had gone -- I
was working for the convenience store. They were great. While I went to
active duty operational support, they downsized themselves by about 36 stores,
and they liquidated all the employees. So there is no job there anymore.
Prior to that,
like I said, I have worked with the Department of Labor, HVRP, Homeless Veterans
Reintegration Program, and that is probably the one I put more towards. I
worked with them for about a year and a half.
Now did you mention you were a welder or your friend was a welder?
Captain ROBINSON. My friend was a welder, sir.
Your friend was a welder. What happened with him?
Captain ROBINSON. The company that he was working with is not hiring. He also came on
early. We brought him on early to do our database management for our security
clearances. He came on early, and when he went back to his job, they said they
I think he
probably falls into what you call an "underemployed." "Oh,
well, if I lose my job while I am gone, I don't really care. I am not going to
make a fight out of it. I am going to be gone for a year and a half" is
kind of what he was thinking. When he came back, now he kind of -- when he
could have run something down earlier, I think he lost that opportunity.
Yes. I mean, would you feel that you or him, your rights were violated under USERRA as far as a job?
Captain ROBINSON. I don't think that my rights -- I can't comment to this soldier, but
I can comment to mine. I don't think my rights were violated. I think they
have had 10 years to find new and creative ways not to violate your rights, if
you are somebody who is going to be an issue. HR people, I am sure, figured
out the way.
But I don't think
necessarily my rights are violated. And honestly, I don't want to go back to a
company that was going to make it a big deal. I want to work for a company
that wants to have me.
Captain ROBINSON. I don't want to have one I have to fight to stay with.
Yes. I appreciate that.
I want to thank both
of you for your eloquent testimony. You both touched on something that we hear
over and over at our Economic Opportunity Subcommittee hearings. Staff
Sergeant Rose, you said in your statement, "How do I convey to potential
employers the significance of what I have done, experienced, and learned in the
National Guard?" which was incredibly eloquent.
Robinson, you said that you are trying to figure out how to translate military
language into civilian human resources speak. And as I am sitting here, I am
thinking what we really need is a Rosetta Stone program for people coming off
of active duty or Guard and Reserve service and for human relations employees
and companies who are looking to hire them.
Because so much
of what you did and the experiences you had have valuable application in the
civilian work setting, but we seem to have an extraordinary challenge of
bridging that gap between the two worlds. So do either of you have suggestions
on what we can tell civilian employers to help them better understand how you
were shaped by your experiences and why that makes you a valuable employee?
Captain ROBINSON. I will go first. Okay. I think your use of the term like a
"Rosetta Stone" is a great idea. I think everyone understands,
especially when they talk about officers -- NCOs, staff sergeants, and above --
equals leadership. And I have never met anybody that doesn't go, okay, well,
yes, you obviously have leadership skills.
That is great. I
also can do database management. I have also worked negotiation skills. I
have worked with multiple different countries while I was deployed. And some
kind of Rosetta Stone, yes, that would say "if I am an intelligence
officer, this is what skills I picked up" would be great.
Same thing with a
mechanic or an infantryman or a medic I think is the way we need to go because
when I say mechanic, you know kind of what he or she can do if they were in the
service. But when I say intelligence officer, outside of the snickers that
come from everybody else that has ever been in the military, you don't really
know what I am doing.
Captain ROBINSON. And how to translate those less parallel ones would be great.
Staff Sergeant Rose?
Sergeant ROSE. It
is tricky. It is easy to identify problems, but it is hard to come up with the
solutions. Maybe just employers need a better understanding of the military
overall because like you said, like officer and NCO is a leadership position.
But if I tell someone I was a noncommissioned officer, they are either going to
go Google it and read the first thing that, okay, he is a noncommissioned
officer. You led people in Afghanistan or Iraq.
But then, still,
that is not telling them what I did. It is just a real quick overview. It is a
very broad view of what I have done. If they had some better process of me
being able to list what I have done and then have better understanding of that,
they may be able to translate it better what they are thinking. Like I said,
it is a tough problem to solve.
Mr. BRALEY. But
do you think that programs like the one that I saw down at Camp Shelby where
civilian employers were actually given the opportunity to travel to your pre-deployment
training area and get to experience more of the world you were preparing to
enter and spend time with you, do you think those programs are helpful in terms
of bridging some of the gaps of understanding you have identified?
Sergeant ROSE. I
think so because then they actually get to see us in the environment we work
in. Even though it is training, but it is training to be in the actual
theater. But I believe it would be helpful.
They would see
how -- what officers do for their men, what NCOs do for their men, what the
privates and the specialists and all of them do out there in the training
environment and what they are actually responsible for and things like that.
So, yes, I believe that it would be extremely helpful.
Captain Robinson, as I was reading from my father's discharge papers, could you
identify with some of those things, as a farm kid growing up in Iowa?
Captain ROBINSON. I did. And I will be honest, I never would have wanted to go back
to farming. But --
Mr. BRALEY. The
reason I ask you that is you made a comment in your statement that veterans don't
seem to get a lot of practical help in getting hired, and I think this is one
of the biggest problems I hear of. We hear of this on the committee all the
We had General
Petraeus's wife, Holly, testifying at one of these get-togethers, and they were
all talking about what we can do to better inform veterans when they are being
demobilized of all of their legal rights and how to protect themselves. And I
said, you know, back in Iowa, we would just give somebody a refrigerator
magnet, and they would have that on the refrigerator. And when they needed
that 800-number, they would know where to find it.
Rockefeller was at that meeting, and he was, I think, pretty shocked by the
fact that a refrigerator magnet might be an actual practical thing to help
people in a time of need.
Captain ROBINSON. It is right there. I mean, you are absolutely right. I like to
start with the fact that if I knew what the golden answer was to being able to
be employed, I wouldn't probably be here today. I know it is a tongue-in-cheek
statement, but it is absolutely true.
It is amazing how
just in the few months that I have been home how my job search has changed from
for some reason, when I first came home, I felt like it was the most important
thing I needed to get done. And then I tried to take a breath and tried to
really enjoy being home with the family.
And then, once
again, I am coming back to, oh, yes, I need to have a job because if I don't
have one not only am I not working, but I am driving my wife insane, and it is
time to go away -- for anybody who has ever been there. But being able to call
somebody when it is time to look for work I think is a great idea.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Captain Robinson, I would like to ask just a couple of questions yet. Have you
had any interviews since you have been back?
Captain ROBINSON. Ironically, the only interview I have had I got from a conversation
I started while I was in Afghanistan, and then my second one will be tomorrow.
I am not getting interviews. And I have actually talked to my civilian
counterpart friends, saying the interviews aren't coming for anyone, or at
least they aren't where I am looking and in the venue I am.
So I don't really
get any feedback. I never know if my resume is good. I don't know if I am
putting the wrong thing out there. And that is the hardest thing. With no
feedback, I don't know if I am right or wrong. I could be completely off base.
Yes. Because that is what I am wondering. What are the reasons for not
furthering their interest in you? Are you hearing anything from any of your
friends, either one of you, on some of the reasons why they may not be hiring?
I know we are in
a tough economy and things like that. That doesn't make the job any easier for
anybody. But I mean, both of you, I mean, represent a lot of men and women
across this country that people should be looking to to hire.
Captain ROBINSON. I believe it is a hard time just of the year to hire, to be honest.
As we get closer to the end of the year, more people take more time off. HR
people aren't nearly as vested in that. So I think that plays into it.
But everyone I
have talked to, and I have gotten phone calls and texts and every other version
of communication we have these days, on people saying, "I am not getting
calls back either." I am putting out. I know people who have put out 15
resumes and haven't gotten a call back.
So these are all veterans.
I mean, we are all in the same boat. But like I said, I don't know if it is
because we are veterans or if it is just because nobody is getting a call back.
Sergeant ROSE. I
have talked to quite a few veterans as well that echo that statement. They are
not getting calls back. I have talked to one soldier. He has expanded his
search from the Iowa/Minnesota area to the whole country, and he is still not
getting calls back. And he is not sure why.
I mean, he has
used the resume help. He has done things like that, but he is just still not
Mr. STUTZMAN. If
we were able to offer the active duty Transition Assistance Program at
locations around Iowa, do you think you would take time or others that you know
would take time to attend any of those?
Captain ROBINSON. I can say for myself, I would. I am also lucky enough to live
relatively close. Living in Des Moines, it is very easy when one of those
things pops up because it is probably going to be close to me.
But if you live
in Waterloo and it is in Des Moines, if you live in Sioux City and it is in Des Moines, I think it is even harder out there. Because of the squadron, a lot of people
are in Sioux City, and that is the people I talk to. I would absolutely go.
Oh, I was also going to say that I feel that some of the younger soldiers don't
quite fully understand the importance of programs like that. So it is really
tough to get them to go to events like that because they are still young. They
still have that kind of carefree attitude.
I am not saying
all of them are like that, but I am saying a lot of them that I know are. So
it is very tough to get them to voluntarily go to a program like this when it
is tough to see a year or two down the road for them.
Well, I am just struck by the fact that you are referring to people as younger
soldiers, Staff Sergeant Rose.
Because from where I sit, you look like a young soldier. But I had the great
privilege of traveling home from Atlanta with Staff Sergeant Rose and getting a
chance to meet Captain Robinson today. I would just say that any employer
would be lucky to have either of you.
And if you are
representative of the people we are producing in the Iowa National Guard, this
State should be very proud. And we thank you and wish you the best of luck in
Thank you to both of you, and appreciate your testimony. It has been very
helpful to both of us and our staff. And at this time, you are excused.
And please feel
free to keep in contact. I am sure Congressman Braley would love if you stayed
in contact with his office, and anything that we could ever do to help. But we
really appreciate you, and at this time, we will excuse both of you and invite
our second panel now to join us.
The second panel
is going to consist of Ms. Stacy Litchfield with Deere and Company. Mr. Kerry
Studer -- I hope I said that right.
Mr. STUTZMAN. Studer, okay. It is kind of like Stutzman -- "Stootzman,"
"Stutzman." And he is with the Principal Financial Group. Ms.
Stacey May with Honkamp, Krueger and Company. And finally, Mr. Tim Carson with
I want to welcome
all of you to this hearing and thank you for your time this morning, and we are
anxious to hear what you all have to say. And we will start with Ms.
Litchfield with Deere and Company. Each of you will have 5 minutes to share
your testimony with us.
STATEMENTS OF STACY LITCHFIELD, REGIONAL
MANAGER, TALENT ACQUISITION AND PERFORMANCE CONSULTING, DEERE AND COMPANY,
MOLINE, ILLINOIS; MAJOR KERRY M. STUDER, USA, ASSISTANT MANAGING DIRECTOR,
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE DIVISION, PRINCIPAL FINANCIAL GROUP, WATERLOO, IOWA;
STACEY MAY, MANAGER, TAX CREDIT PROGRAM, HONKAMP, KRUEGER AND COMPANY, P.C.,
DUBUQUE, IOWA; AND TIMOTHY J. CARSON, MANAGER, VETERANS INITIATIVES, OFFICE OF
DIVERSITY, ROCKWELL COLLINS, INC., CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA
Ms. LITCHFIELD. Thank
Braley and distinguished members of the committee, my name is Stacy Litchfield.
I am the U.S. regional manager for talent acquisition with Deere and Company. On
behalf of John Deere, thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today
on this important topic.
John Deere is a
worldwide leader in providing advanced products and services for agriculture,
forestry, construction, turf care, landscaping, and irrigation. We are a
leading manufacturer of off-highway diesel engines and one of the largest
equipment finance companies in the United States. We have operations in 30
As an employer,
we focus on attracting, developing, and retaining the best global talent from
all backgrounds. At times, our recruiting efforts focus on access and
visibility to specific groups. One is veterans.
organizations that provide the broadest reach and help our staffing team
leverage various military recruiting initiatives and related events. John
Deere staffing participates in several recruiting events targeting veterans,
including career fairs, conferences, and virtual career fairs.
We also work
directly with the military when appropriate, and we have participated in the
Army Partnership for Youth Success, PaYS, Program since its inception. Young
men and women can enter the service knowing that they will receive specialized
training and develop skills that are in demand in the private and public
sectors, and Deere gets access to a pool of skilled candidates.
John Deere is
also active in a variety of outreach programs and job boards that help us
connect with veterans who offer a broad array of skills and experiences. We
also work with military staffing organizations to recruit veterans. For
example, the Army Partnership Program, a job posting and resume database, has
provided us with candidates for both mid-career and wage positions.
employing veterans, we support programs that help veterans start businesses and
become suppliers to companies like ours. Our suppliers include about 200 veteran-owned
businesses and about 50 businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.
At John Deere, we
recognize that engaged employees working together create a competitive
advantage. We cultivate an environment of inclusive teamwork through programs
such as our employee networks. One of these resource groups is composed of
employees who have a connection to the U.S. military. The group brings
employees together to build relationships, provide support, and sponsor
military outreach activities.
Deere also has
military leave of absence provisions for Reservists and Guardsmen who are
called up for active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. To help ease the financial
hardship endured by these soldiers and their families, Deere voluntarily
provides up to 2 years of differential pay, where applicable, along with health
benefits, life insurance, and other benefits.
The impact on
retention has been significant. Since 2001, more than 200 Deere employees have
been deployed. Over 96 percent of those soldiers still work for John Deere.
Even though veterans
are purposely included in our recruiting, development, and retention efforts,
we do face challenges in effectively bringing them into our organization.
First, with the variety of organizations and job boards available, it is
difficult to determine the best way to connect with job candidates from the
recommendation would be a central data source that offers links to standardized
job, industry, and geographic classification codes to other reported Federal
labor, employment, economic, and census data. This would help improve results
for job posting visibility among the right candidates.
veterans are challenged to translate their education and skills to fit
requirements for nonmilitary positions. Transitioning military may also be at
a disadvantage without accreditation or certification required by some
To remedy this,
all levels of government could implement solutions that effectively balance
current challenges with educational system gaps, the accreditation of job
seekers, and the fiscal demands and resources of employers.
In closing, I
want to highlight again the importance, priority, and demonstrated focus John
Deere places on hiring, outreach, skill development, and training of veterans.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share our views and on improving employment
opportunities for veterans.
I would be happy
to answer any questions.
[The statement of Stacy Litchfield appears
in the Appendix.]
Good. Thank you.
Major STUDER. Thank
Stutzman, Ranking Member Braley, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for
the opportunity to discuss the Principal Financial Group's commitment to
protecting the rights of veterans and our Guard and Reserve members.
I am Kerry Studer,
a recently deployed Army major and assistant managing director at Principal
Financial Group in their Commercial Real Estate Division. I have been
mobilized on deployments 3 times over my 22-year military career and had
the opportunity to see firsthand how two different civilian employers and one
university handled those such deployments.
Principal, as an
employer with more than 200 veteran and military employees, with the experience
of having 9 employees on emergency leave in the last 2 years, Principal is
committed to protecting the job rights of employees who serve their State and
country through the uniformed services. I am here today to talk about that
I have submitted
a formal written statement, which I would like to summarize in these verbal
comments today with really three primary areas of focus. One, what we are
doing on the front end in getting more veterans within our Principal ranks.
Two, what we are doing to support our current veterans and employees that are
currently within our ranks. And three, and probably most importantly, what are
currently doing to increase awareness of corporate and community outreach
within central Iowa.
retention. The Principal has clearly targeted outreach efforts in order to
attract and retain military employees and veterans. We have a successful
hiring process of previously deployed soldiers with a specific target on really
focusing on co-ops and internship programs of those students that are currently
in or completing their 4-year degree.
Over the last 10
years, there is a lot of soldiers that have not had the opportunity to sit,
unannounced, in a 4-year academic institution and complete their degree.
Whether it be one or two deployments, we find that this is a current process.
When hiring constraints tend to be tough, we have really focused in on these
co-op opportunities. It is a 9-month snapshot to bring them in-house, get them
out of their academic curriculum and get them exposed to corporate America before they complete their degree to give them a little bit more snapshot and guidance in
proactively participate in veteran-focused career fairs, such as the upcoming
Hiring Heroes event scheduled in early November. And we think it is important
not only to have HR support there, we took a step above, and we are sending 30
-- over 30, actually, current veterans that are within our ranks at Principal
to really act as ambassadors of what it is like to work at Principal. And
sometimes we feel that these veterans do a better job of bridging that gap
between deployed veterans and the HR area.
support of our military and our military families, what I call kind of creating
a culture, it is well documented. We are a recent Freedom Award recipient.
But I wanted to highlight just a few things about Principal and what they did
to me as my deployment.
Not only did my
company support me, my family, and my unit, they took the time to understand
what the deployment did to both the soldier and the families back at home.
While HR guidelines and corporate support are all important to success in supporting
deployed soldiers, we think the very best companies take that personal approach
to company support and extend that assistance at a very personal level. It is
that personal touch that, in my personal opinion, solidifies the relationship
both to and from that soldier and corporate America.
awareness is the key to driving additional support. Our CEO, Larry Zimpleman,
is very involved in supporting the Guard and Reserves. A member of our senior
management, usually which is Larry, provides a keynote address every year near Veterans
Day to our current employees. The nature of this event varies from year to year.
But this year, we are providing all of our units, all of our veterans within
our ranks a military coin that just says "Thank you from Principal."
While this may
seem like a small token from senior leadership, I have personally been to these
events. It is a way that veterans can get together within the ranks not only
to talk about their experiences, but to talk about other veterans that they
know and how we can bridge the gap in getting more veterans into our ranks.
Most veterans are
generally humble in nature, but our senior executives take the time each and
every year to remind each of the veterans of their personal sacrifice and the
fact that our company generally appreciates their service.
outreach and support. Senior leaders at the Principal, I can attest personally
and publicly, express the support of their military employees, family members,
and veterans through a number of things. When I think one of the most
important items that we do is we recently did a hosting of an Employer Support
of the Guard and Reserve statement at a workshop event.
happen across all States and they have happened certainly within Iowa, I think
the components of this in bringing other corporate citizens to an event,
highlighting one corporate supporting this with the right people, the right
members, the right venue, and the right passion, we have seen that these events
can spread the word within corporate America on what value these veterans bring
to the table and what ways we can do to attract and do best practices of
bridging those gaps.
To close, as I
mentioned earlier, I have been mobilized or deployed 3 times in my 22 years of
military service. Without question, the Principal has set itself apart from
all others in supporting me and my family. The cumulative effect of all the programs,
events, and activities I have mentioned today is a work environment where
military and veteran employees feel supported in their military leave while
they are away and of value for the service they have provided for their State
or country once they return.
management can lead with the support and encouragement, each department and
every individual at all of our companies plays a vital role in creating that
supportive culture. I can't say enough about the commitment that the leaders
and employees have shown personally and publicly by expressing support of the
military and veterans at Principal and beyond.
I am lucky to be
a citizen of this great country. I am now a retired major in the United States
Army and an employee of the Principal. I feel I have benefitted from the
best-case scenario in terms of the relationship between my military service and
my employment at Principal.
What we need now
is for more companies to step up, create a platform for even more best-case
scenarios so that they can become the norm, not the exception. I look forward
to that happening, and I am happy to help in any way.
I am honored to
be here today. Thank you for your time.
[The statement of
Kerry M. Studer appears in the Appendix.]
Mr. STUTZMAN. Thank
you, and thank you for your service as well.
Chairman Stutzman, Ranking Member Braley, and members of the subcommittee,
thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
I am Stacey May.
I work at Honkamp Krueger out of Dubuque, Iowa, and we have a little bit
different take than some of the other committee members today, or people doing
testimony. Honkamp Krueger has a service that we provide to our clients that
benefits veterans, and so that is what I am going to talk about today.
According to the
Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for veterans ages 18 to 24 in 2010
was 20.9 percent. Even more astonishing is that veterans as a whole accounted
for a total 1.02 million people looking for work in the United States.
To make matters
worse, on October 5th, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned, while
addressing Congress, that the economic recovery, as it currently stands, "is
close to faltering". He later stated, "We need to make sure that the recovery
continues and doesn't drop back and that unemployment rate continues to fall".
To sum it up, we
need action, action to keep this economic recovery going and action to make
sure businesses continue to hire, otherwise, the unemployment rate for veterans
and the country as a whole will continue down a path toward higher unemployment
and further economic turmoil.
I believe the
core part of the action needed to sustain a continued recovery is a permanent employment
tax credit that incentivizes business to hire. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit
does just that. The WOTC program is a perfect example of a successful Government
program that rewards businesses for hiring employees from certain target groups
that have consistently faced barriers in seeking employment.
known as target groups, include veterans, people on Government assistance, the
disabled, ex-offenders. According to the Department of Labor, the WOTC program
processed 849,868 certificates in fiscal year 2010 that allowed employers to
claim the tax credit on their income tax return. Currently, employers that
hire qualifying employees generally may be eligible for a 1-year Federal income
tax credit worth anywhere from $1,200 to $4,800 and, in some cases, a 2-year
credit worth up to $9,000.
the WOTC program is set to expire at the end of the year, December 31, 2011,
which would be an additional blow to the veteran community when seeking employment.
I believe that we
can get our unemployed veterans back to work with the WOTC program by making
three changes. One, make the Work Opportunity Tax Credit permanent. Since its
creation in 1996, the WOTC program has been up for renewal eight times. By
making the program permanent, it would add stability in the hiring process.
Two, expand the
program by adding a target group for hiring unemployed veterans. President
Obama mentioned this in his proposed American Jobs Bill, naming it the
"returning heroes tax credit." It would allow unemployed veterans to
qualify their employer for WOTC.
the maximum tax credit amount an employer may receive for hiring qualified veterans.
Increasing the tax credit amount would further incentivize employers to hire veterans.
rate for the veterans in our country is too high. We need action by our leaders
in Washington to help veterans who served our country get back to work. With
modifications to the WOTC program, such as making the WOTC program permanent,
creating an unemployed veterans target group, and increasing the tax credit for
hiring veterans, it will not only fuel employers to create jobs, it will fuel
employers to hire our brave veterans.
[The statement of Stacey May appears in the
Mr. STUTZMAN. Okay.
Mr. CARSON. Thank
Stutzman, Congressman Braley, my name is Tim Carson, and I serve as a manager
of veterans initiatives with the Office of Diversity at Rockwell Collins, a
global aerospace and defense company headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
In my position, I
work closely with Rockwell Collins human resources organization and a variety
of external partners to promote outreach to veterans and veterans
organizations. I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk to you today, and
I appreciate that you are taking time to listen to the perspectives of business
and the community.
particularly germane to this State, which has one of the highest number of per
capita Reservists serving on active duty of any State in the union. And on
behalf of Rockwell Collins, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for
the invitation to speak about the importance of helping veterans secure
service these men and women provide is undeniable and so are the core skills
they developed in the service -- leadership, discipline, responsibility, and
technological savvy -- that can be invaluable to civilian employers.
more than 870,000 young veterans are unemployed, a rate higher than the
national unemployment rate, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of
America. And the wind-down of engagements abroad will lead to an additional
million seeking civilian employment in the next 5 years.
Collins talks about these soldiers, we are not just speaking about them as a
simple subpopulation amongst all of today's unemployed. We are talking about
the people that we serve. They have relied upon our communication technology
to stay connected with their leadership in harsh, remote settings around the
They have used
our navigation systems to ensure the pinpoint accuracy of weapon systems in
areas where civilians and combatants often live side by side. They have
identified friend and foe with our helmet-mounted displays, and they have given
us feedback based on their own experiences to make these systems better for the
next generation of warfighters.
We are grateful
for their service and are dedicated to helping them successfully transition
from their military service and bring their skills and experiences to the
civilian workforce. To that end, Rockwell Collins has always prioritized the
hiring and retention of veterans and advocates that businesses across the State
and Nation do so as well.
We also believe
it is important for us and other companies to partner with local and national
organizations to ensure veterans receive the counseling, training, and guidance
that they need to secure and make the most of meaningful employment
Today, I am going
to talk about some of the initiatives Rockwell Collins has pursued to build our
veteran workforce and the partnerships we maintain. These aren't necessarily
the only answer. In fact, I am sure there isn't one single answer to this
challenge. But we recognize that you are seeking a breadth of ideas, and I
think we have some good ones.
company has practices and policies in place to ensure that we attract and
retain veterans and their spouses as employees. Nearly 8 percent of our
domestic workforce is made up of veterans, and at any given time, a number of
them are serving active duty through the Guard and Reserve. In fact, we are a
strong advocate of the principles of the Iowa Employer Support of the Guard and
Reserve, or IESGR, which has been mentioned.
calls for companies to adhere to and go beyond the provisions of the Uniformed
Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, including maintaining
benefits, contributing to employee 401(k)s during military active duty, and
maintaining vacation accrual and raises. Because Rockwell Collins follows
these guidelines and also promotes these principles to others in the community,
we have earned a five-star rating from the IESGR.
We also recognize
that legal issues can be a burden on Iowa servicemen and women before, during,
and after their deployment and provide ongoing support of the Iowa Returning Veterans
Project to provide them with free legal assistance. Our human resources group
has a full-time recruiter devoted to identifying and hiring military talent,
and we allocate a specific and growing percentage of our annual recruitment
advertising budget to military outreach.
efforts, we have consistently grown our share of veterans as a part of our
total workforce, including a 4 percent increase over the past fiscal year. But
there is more to go.
has identified the hiring of even more of yesterday's warriors as a key
business goal for fiscal year 2012. And we are launching an enterprise-wide
strategy to increase our outreach, recruitment, hiring, and retention efforts
for veterans and veterans with disabilities.
Once hired, we
further the well-being and retention of these individuals through a veterans
employee network group, corporate networking opportunities, and special
engagements such as transition think tanks and PTSD seminars. We collaborate
with the Veterans Administration and other subject matter experts to ensure
that the necessary supports and services are made available and are also
accessible to our employees.
We also recognize
the importance of supporting veterans through our business contracting with
suppliers. Year-to-date, Rockwell Collins has spent $57 million, nearly 5
percent of total corporate spending, with suppliers with veteran-owned small
businesses and $13.6 million with service-disabled veteran-owned small
Now, we are
fortunate to have gained some recognition for these efforts. Rockwell Collins
has been named a top 100 military-friendly employer by GI Jobs magazine for the
past 2 years, and we strive every day to continue to deserve that recognition.
Beyond our own hiring practices, Rockwell Collins seeks to support initiatives
that promote hiring of veterans across the Nation.
We are a proud
corporate sponsor of the jobs and internship program, a partnership championed
by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Student Veterans of America. In fact, we
recently made a significant contribution to the Chamber, specifically earmarked
for their partnership with the SVA and development of the Hiring Our Heroes
We attended the
SVA's leadership summit and career fair this past summer in Madison, Wisconsin, and we will support the SVA's national conference this December as a corporate
partner, exhibitor, and employment panel participant.
that is a personal passion for me, we also work to bring disabled veterans into
the workplace through a relationship with the National Organization on
Disability, known as NOD, and its Wounded Warriors program. As a primary
sponsor of the organization, one of our senior executives sits on the board for
NOD and is engaged in communicating core messages, events, and opportunities
for Rockwell Collins to both support and influence.
And we continue
to seek additional relationships or opportunities to promote veteran hiring
wherever we do business and to talk about it at every opportunity, like we are
Now there is no
one, single solution to the complex challenge to veteran unemployment, and it
is a pleasure to hear from the other participants today and to get new ideas to
consider. But I hope that my and Rockwell Collins' contribution to the
conversation is helpful as you consider the public and private strategies to
tackle this issue.
These men and
women willingly accepted one of our Nation's most vital and precious
responsibilities of protecting the country from harm, and in turn, we commit to
fulfill our responsibility to help them put the unique and desirable skills
they developed in that endeavor to work for the well-being of themselves, their
families, and their future.
I welcome any
questions you may have today, and I also encourage you to contact Rockwell
Collins if you would like to know more specifics about some of the initiatives
that I have outlined for you here today.
[The statement of
Timothy J. Carson appears in the Appendix.]
Mr. STUTZMAN. All
right. Thank you very much to each of your testimony. It has, again, been
A couple of
questions. Ms. Litchfield, I will start with you. First of all, we have all
John Deere on our farm. We do have a couple of red ones. They are just for
show, but --
I am glad to hear that.
Mr. STUTZMAN. In
your written statement, you talked about the difficulties in matching veterans
with the appropriate positions due to the numerous boards that are available.
I am sure that is a challenge. Can you talk a little bit about have you ever
used the National Labor Exchange's job board, run by the Direct Employers
Association, and kind of how can you -- has one board been more successful than
I can't speak specific to the job board success or nonsuccess, but we are in a
partnership with Direct Employers Association. So we do use that particular
In regards to
matching skill sets with openings that we have, I think it relates back to the
comments we heard from Captain Robinson and Staff Sergeant Rose related to
being able to clearly articulate what those skills and experiences are and as
they relate to specific job openings.
Each of our jobs
are posted with specific requirements and experiences that we are looking for
in candidates. And much of the process is an automated process, not an
individual looking through that. So sometimes it is difficult to get a direct
match when you are looking for key words or experiences on those resumes. And
so, that does become a challenge for us.
We have a number
of openings right now in the U.S., and many of them are targeted around
specific technical skills that we are hiring for. And sometimes we don't get
access to the candidates within the U.S. as well.
So those are some
of the challenges that we are facing.
Okay. And Ms. May, you talked quite a bit about the tax credit, and I would
like to follow up a little bit more on that because I like where you are going
with that. And one of the complaints that we have heard, though, is the
intensive paperwork that goes along with that.
I mean, can you
touch on that, and anybody else on the panel touch on that?
Ms. MAY. It is
only two forms.
Ms. MAY. It is
two forms. Two forms get added to the HR paperwork, and they complete those when they do their new hire paperwork. So when they are doing their
W-4, they have these two forms. They answer a few questions, and based on
that, we process and determine who is qualified and who is not. So it is not
that complicated, not too bad.
Mr. STUTZMAN. It
doesn't sound too bad.
Ms. MAY. No.
Coming from an accounting background as well, that doesn't, I mean, sound
Ms. MAY. No, now
computing the credit can get a little bit complicated because there are
different target groups and different levels, and the legislation continues to
change. And right now, there is pending legislation to add these two new
So that is what
we keep up on. So that makes it a little complicated if you are trying to do
it in-house and do it on your own. But --
Okay. So doing it in-house might be more difficult?
Ms. MAY. It may
be because you would probably have to have a specific person dedicated to doing
it and keeping up with the forms, sending them off to the appropriate State, then
waiting for a certificate to come back and then processing the credit.
Okay. If I am a small business owner and I am looking to use the credit --
which I am a small business owner and didn't even know about the credit until
becoming a Member of Congress and a part of this committee -- what, do you
find very many people interested in the credit, and how do they usually hear
Ms. MAY. They hear
about it various ways. There are still businesses out there that aren't doing
it, yet it is something that gets promoted. You know, of course, there
are different Government representatives talking about it. President
Obama has been talking about this, in particular. He hasn't actually said the
Work Opportunity Tax Credit, but yet when you are talking about adding the veterans
credit, it is specifically for that program.
So, is there
acknowledgment of the program out there for businesses? Yes. There are some
businesses -- retail, manufacturing, staffing, call centers -- they are the
ones that are more prevalent doing that program. But small businesses can
benefit, too, because if they get one credit, if they are hiring one veteran,
they could get a credit of $2,400, $4,800.
And you mentioned increasing the tax credit. Any number that you have in mind?
$5,600 for unemployed veterans and $9,600 for hiring unemployed veterans with a
service-connected disability is what is out on the table right now.
Okay. And it is currently $2,400?
Correct. There is two veteran credits right now currently with WOTC, and it is
for a disabled veteran and for somebody who has been on assistance and is also
a veteran. So those exist currently.
And then, a year
ago, they actually had an unemployed veteran as a target group, and that went
away as of last year. Which is what they are trying to bring that one
back and then increase the credit.
Mr. STUTZMAN. Do
you find very many employers utilizing those credits?
Ms. MAY. And
making thousands and thousands of dollars in 1 year, in 1 tax year. So there
are a lot of companies that are benefitting from the Work Opportunity Tax
Credit program. It would be a shame for it to go away.
What do we
normally extend it? You said in your testimony that we have renewed it eight
times since '96. So --
Typically, it is a 2-year renewal.
Ms. MAY. Last
time, because they extended -- they didn't renew it until December of the year
that it needed to get renewed. So because of the big delay, they did 3 years.
And so, that took us to the end of this year. And now the legislation is for
another 3-year extension.
Okay. Mr. Braley?
Well, Mr. Chairman, I am certainly not going to let you upstage me on tractor
discussions in my hometown of Waterloo.
Mr. BRALEY. And
Ms. Litchfield, that steel-type tractor my father was driving was green. So
let us just get that on the record.
Ms. LITCHFIELD. Okay.
Mr. BRALEY. One
of the things that I was very interested in is your job title because you are
listed as the manager of talent acquisition, and that got me thinking about the
whole focus of this hearing. Because most employers that I talk to, when they
are looking for someone to add to their workforce, they are looking for someone
who is highly motivated, who has highly developed critical thinking skills, who
has creative problem-solving experience, and who is disciplined.
disagree on this panel with what I just said?
Mr. BRALEY. And
yet it seems like the two young men that we heard from earlier certainly meet
that criteria. Most of the people who have experienced combat would not
survive unless they had some level of experience with all of those criteria.
Yet we have this enormous challenge of bridging the gap between military
service experience and civilian workforce demands.
So what can you
share with us about those real world challenges that employers face in trying
to identify workers who meet their job criteria and people like the two
witnesses we heard from on our first panel, who are ready, willing, and able to
work? How do we solve that problem?
Let us start with
you, Ms. Litchfield.
Well, one of the challenges that I think we face is there is a number of job
boards that are available for us to use to get access to military veterans and
individuals interested in working for our organization and others. And I think
if we could find a way to streamline how we get access to the right candidates
for the right type of skills, that helps us then, in turn, get to a job
opportunity for that individual and for us to get access to talent to help
support our business objectives.
And so, I think
one of the challenges that we do face is there is a broad array out there for
us to target and knowing which ones get you the best access to the right
candidates. We have limited resources, just like any other organization does,
and so we want to make sure we are spending our money around our advertising
and our efforts targeted for recruiting on the right types of activities.
So that would be
one area that I think if we could come together and figure out how we get
access to the right skills and capabilities to match up with the opportunities
that we have to offer.
Mr. BRALEY. I
was kind of joking about that Rosetta Stone thing, but in reality, the Chamber
is putting a lot of money into trying to help address this very problem.
Mr. BRALEY. And
it seems to me that the DoD and Veterans Affairs Departments, working in
conjunction with private employers, could do a better job of trying to bridge
Mr. BRALEY. Major Studer?
Sure. I think it is obviously multiple front. I have been impressed with the
ESGR work. There is some resume-building things that I think they have tapped
into corporate America on. Send HR people in a non-interview mode to get
soldiers over -- most soldiers tend to be fairly humble.
When you come
through and say, hey, how am I going to compete for this job and orate the
differences between what this guy is doing in the civilian sector and what I
have just done for the last 12 months? I think there are a lot of things to
trump. But navigating and cross that bridge, they talked about a lot of the
previous testimony as kind of white noise, but that last 30 days --
Death by PowerPoint?
Major STUDER. A
little bit. But the last 30 days in country and then the first 90 days that
you are back here, soldiers are going through a lot. I think there are bridges
to be built between corporate America and not necessarily trying to reach
individual soldiers. But they all have a chain of command, a peacetime chain
We knew 3,500
soldiers were coming back to Iowa in a fairly finite amount of time. I would
like to say all corporate citizens were as proactive as we should have been,
but it is kind of looking in building the bridge between I think the military
chain of command. They all have full-time civilian staff.
That is one of
the first people soldiers go to. "Hey, my unit administrator or my first
sergeant, I need work." They know about it there. It is just how do we
get "I need work" from the unit itself to a corporate? A lot of
endeavors on how to bridge that, but it starts at the unit, and it ends at the
And that is where
if we could have more, my opinion, more resources dedicated to -- some
companies don't know the Reserve units that are local to them. Some companies
don't know how many veterans they currently have employed. It is increasing
the awareness and starting the push.
Well, and let us face it. We have three of Iowa's largest employers
represented here, and the resources your companies have to commit to this type
of an outcome can be different than a small mom-and-pop business that may be no
less patriotic in their commitment to hiring veterans, but just doesn't have
access to the same resources to help them make these choices.
Ms. MAY. I would
agree with Mr. Studer. I mean, the time to do it would be the time before
they come back because there is downtime. My husband was deployed, and there
is time at that point because of their downtime. I would think that would be
the great opportunity to start working with them and talking about their
I mean, the
people that are going to need to get jobs, they do need to have the skills to
be able to match up what is needed in corporate America versus what their
military experience is, and I think that is key, and being able to do that
before they come home. Because when they come home, there is a lot of
challenges. Medically, there can be a lot of mental things going on.
So if you try to
do those things before they come back. Plus, I think that would give them
peace of mind. Having a job and being employed is one of the most important
things when you come back.
Mr. BRALEY. Mr.
Yes. So I would say that some of the challenges that we heard from the first
panel are no different than those that I faced 20 years ago when I got out of
the Army, trying to translate military experience and training and schooling
into the civilian workforce.
What, of course,
amplifies that today is our economy. And I think that it would be very helpful
to continue to have these public discussions maybe in town hall forums on a
drill weekend out at a Reserve center and get some of the larger employers
there, where we walk through the facilities and HR representatives, hiring
managers are able to see our soldiers in action, in drill, and understand what
they do and then have a town hall discussion about that publicly.
Well, and you and Ms. Litchfield both talked about the very important component
of your companies' businesses, which is small business suppliers who hire veterans.
Mr. BRALEY. And
I know, Ms. May, your company works with many small businesses, and not every veteran
wants or is prepared to go to work for someone. And I think one of the
unaddressed issues that we need to spend more time talking about is how we
provide veterans who want to start their own small business the resources to be
successful when the rate of failure for small business is so high and what
types of different programming we need to be offering them so they can achieve
their dreams of being a self-employed veteran some day, too.
I see my time has
expired, and so I will yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Okay. Thank you very much.
I guess I would just like to ask all of you on this particular panel. I
mean, you heard the challenges that Mr. Rose and Mr. Robinson are having, and I
know there are many more men and women that have the same challenges. But
would, just asking as maybe a committee here, just if you could talk with them.
And Mr. Rose mentioned challenges with his resume and I know Mr. Robinson is
looking for a job -- any ideas?
Because I think
that with their commitment to what they have done for our country and also your
commitment to what you have done for job creation in this part of the country
is crucial. But also connecting people is really what a lot of this is about.
So I want to say
just thank you to all of you for what you do do. Because I know we are going
through some very difficult times, and your testimony has been very helpful.
Appreciate the comments on tax credits and the challenges of connecting
people. We are just going to continue to have to work at it, and I believe
that we can be successful.
So, with that, we
will excuse all of you. Thank you again for coming.
And at this time,
we would like to welcome our third and final panel. Our third group of
witnesses includes Colonel Benjamin Corell with the Iowa National Guard. This would be personal comments with Mark Hennessey, which I will
explain in a little bit.
And then Ms.
Teresa Wahlert with Iowa Workforce Development and Mr. Anthony Smithhart with
the U.S. Department of Labor.
Of course, all of
these will have 5 minutes. We had some issues logistically with Mr.
Hennessey's testimony. So he is appearing on his own behalf today.
Which we appreciate you being here, and we do want to hear from you personally.
So we will begin
with Colonel Corell, and thank you for your service, and we recognize you for 5
STATEMENTS OF COLONEL BENJAMIN CORELL,
COMMANDER, SECOND BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM, IOWA NATIONAL GUARD, JOHNSTON, IOWA;
MARK HENNESSEY, IOWA COMMITTEE FOR EMPLOYER SUPPORT OF THE GUARD AND RESERVE,
JOHNSTON, IOWA; TERESA WAHLERT, DIRECTOR, IOWA WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, DES
MOINES, IOWA; AND ANTHONY SMITHHART, IOWA STATE DIRECTOR, VETERANS EMPLOYMENT
AND TRAINING SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Colonel CORELL. Yes,
sir. Chairman Stutzman, Congressman Braley, I am Colonel Ben Corell. I am the
commander of the Second 34th Brigade Combat Team just returned from service in
Afghanistan, brought back about 3,100 troops to Iowa here in the July
I am from a small
town, too, and I take things in bite-sized chunks, and up in the Strawberry
Point area. Congressman Braley knows this. But I look at what is the problem
that we are trying to identify here?
And from Ben
Corell's perspective, I think we are looking at Reserve and National Guard
employers. And that is really my framework here. I think that includes veterans,
but I think it is different when we talk about those coming off active duty.
They have ended their service. They are reentering the workforce with really
an active duty background behind them.
As I look at what
we have done in the Reserve and National Guard in the last 10 years, it is
different because we continue to go back to the well. We continue to ask our
employers to sacrifice as we continue to mobilize our Guard and Reserve for
contingency operations, whether it be combat, peacekeeping, and in some cases,
we have domestic responsibilities that we have within the borders of our own
So I look at that
a little bit differently. It is still the same problems that we have as far as
how do we keep those soldiers employed? And how do we incentivize it to those
Guard and Reserve employers that says I am going to go through that sacrifice?
Because at some
point, the patriotic aspect of it loses its attraction. You have got to put
some type of incentive that says I clearly want to keep this not because of all
those other things that we talked about already in this hearing today about
discipline and hard work, but because it is now costing my business something.
I will give you a
little bit of my background. I have deployed four times. The first time that
I deployed, well, my first 15 years in the Reserve components, I did just like
the commercial said, 1 weekend a month, 2 weeks in the summer. And I went to
the schooling requirements that I had.
In 2000, I had
the opportunity to deploy into Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Southern
Watch. We secured Patriot missile batteries. I thought that was my one and
only opportunity to deploy onto active duty outside the United States and serve my country. So I took that with pride.
I came back
home. And that fall, 9/11 happened. At that time, I owned a small business.
My brother-in-law and I were in partnership together. We had a BP-Amoco tank
wagon business up in Strawberry Point, Iowa.
I deployed again
in 2003-2004 to do a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai. Came back. 2005, I
deployed again as a battalion commander to Iraq. We got extended. I was gone
1 week short of 2 years.
When I came back
to my small business, my brother-in-law said to me, "You know, this isn't
what I signed up for. We built the business for both of us to operate and make
a living off of. It no longer fits my business model." So I said I will
go find something else to do.
But I think that
is reflective of others who are small business owners or who work for those
small mom-and-pop companies that only have a handful of employees. When one is
gone, it is a significant impact on that business.
And then I just
returned from my fourth deployment as a brigade commander into Afghanistan.
military has sacrificed a lot in the last 10 years. One percent of our
population has served in uniform. Take that out of the Reserve and the National
Guard, I don't believe that we could have been successful as a military without
the Reserve and National Guard with what we have added to the fight, just based
on my experience. And I think most of my brothers on active duty would echo
those same comments.
I think that we
have spent a lot of time working very hard on building resume-writing
capabilities. We do job fairs for our soldiers. We have got a great team of
ESGR representatives. A lot of volunteers that go in, and we do lunch and
learns. We do those BOSS lists that Congressman Braley talked about.
But I think it
has got to go beyond that. I think we have got to identify how do we make an
incentive for an employer to hire a Reserve and National Guardsman. I think
the veterans piece of it has to be included in that, but I think it is even
more difficult when we talk about Guard and Reserve, who continue to be drawn
away for different requirements.
At some point,
the well starts to go dry. And I think as we lay it out, if everything is
equal, if I am that hiring board member, if everything is equal, I am not sure
that being a member of the Guard and Reserve is a bonus when I look at that.
Even though they may have some additional leadership qualities, that I don't
really know how I quantitate that because I think we have discussed that
But if everything
else is equal, I am probably going to lend the vote to this person that isn't
in the Guard and Reserve because I know they are going to be there every day,
and I know that I can count on them to be there. With what we have done with
the Guard and Reserve in the last 10 years, we can't always say that.
So whether that
is some type of tax incentive, whether that is a grant, whether that is a
forgivable loan, I think that is where the focus has got to be so we have some
type of a reward. In my career, I worked in recruiting. And I know that when
times get tough, everything is the same, people are going to join the Guard and
Reserve because of patriotic commitment, because it is in their family lineage,
or it is just something that they always wanted to do.
Once you run out
of those folks, then everything equals out, and you have got to have some sort
of incentive for those people to come in and say, well, I want to go to
college, what can you give me? I want to help put food on the table, what can
you give me? What incentive do I have to do something different to join the
Guard and Reserve, compared to going and getting a part-time job somewhere
And that is
really what I see is the problem, how we identify that piece. I think that is
all I have. I have submitted my written comments, and I will stand by for your
Thanks for the
[The statement of
Benjamin Corell appears in the Appendix.]
Mr. Hennessey, we
will go ahead and recognize you just for some personal comments, if you would
Absolutely. Thank you, gentlemen.
My name is Mark
Hennessey. I live in Robins, and I am just here as a concerned civilian.
My father was an
Army vet. My father-in-law was a Navy vet. I have got numerous friends that have
served and several friends that are still active members of the Guard and Reserve,
and just somebody that has talked on both sides of that with local employers in
the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area, as well as veterans, and how to bridge that
gap and get those two parties together, help them understand the needs that the
And as we talked
about translating that military resume to the civilian world, doing things that
expand the initiatives, such as the ESGR initiative, such as the BOSS lists,
those things like that. And so, it is just something that I hear echoed
throughout the community.
I am very
involved in a lot of networking events. So I talk with a lot of people, and
that is something that I regularly hear is how do we bridge that gap?
[The statement of
Mark Hennessey appears in the Appendix.]
you are recognized for your testimony.
Thank you, Congressman.
Stutzman, Ranking Member Braley, and members of the committee, thank you for
this opportunity to testify before the committee about the work we are doing at
the Department of Labor to address important issues of decreasing unemployment
rate for veterans, National Guard, and Reservists.
We also appreciate
the -- with over 240,000 veterans living in a State, it is critical that we
provide them with the services and support they need to find and obtain good
jobs. My name is Tony Smithhart, and as Iowa State director for the Department
of Labor's Veterans Employment Training Service, I am dedicated to helping our veterans
and service members returning and achieve that goal.
serves veterans and transitioning service members by providing resources and
expertise to assist and prepare them to obtain meaningful careers, maximize
their employment opportunities, protect their employment rights. We do this
through a variety of nationwide programs that are an integral part of Secretary
Solis's vision of good jobs for everyone.
I would like to begin
by briefly discussing some of the programs along with initiatives to assist America's veterans in getting to or back to work from, and then focus specifically on the
information from Iowa that you requested.
The first program
I would like to highlight for you is the Jobs for Veterans State program. Under this program, the department offers employment and training services to
eligible veterans by allocating funds to the State workforce development
The Jobs for Veterans
program funds two programs, the Disabled Veterans Outreach Specialist and the
LVERs. Congressman Stutzman, you had mentioned and asked I think it was
Captain Robinson about that in Iowa. In Iowa, we absolutely have the two
programs, but it is primarily DVOPs, and we call them veteran representatives.
We put almost all of our positions are DVOP. So when they come in, they see a
DVOP, they provide intensive services.
So if he is being
seen by one of our veteran representatives within the workforce, he is being
case managed or receiving intensive service, effective October 3rd. But we
call them vet reps, and there is a delineation, but they are DVOPs because we
only have one and a half LVERs. The rest are DVOP. So absolutely we do that.
nationwide, the Jobs for Veterans State grant provided services to nearly
589,000 veterans, 201,000 of those found jobs. To meet the needs of homeless veterans
and help reintegrate them into the workforce, VETS administers the Homeless Veteran
Reintegration Program. Through HVRP, the department provides competitive
grants to States and local workforce investment boards, State agencies, local
public agencies, and private nonprofits.
provide an array of services utilizing a holistic case management approach,
directly assists homeless veterans, provide training services to help them
successfully. Program year 2009, we had over 14,000 homeless veterans
participating in the program. Ninety-six grants, 8,470 were placed into employment.
The 2010 numbers are still not available.
Here, in Iowa, we are very fortunate. We have two programs, both of them located in the Iowa City area, with services being provided in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids and in the Quad
Cities. The Iowa City one is really new. This is their first year. It started
August 5 th. And the other one, the Quad Cities, is very successful
and love to show you that program if you would like to take time to tour the
facilities and meet with the veterans. A really good program.
I think you can
all read, and my time is running low. So I will go to the information you
asked about Iowa. You requested information about veterans in Iowa. While some specific data is unavailable, we have nevertheless been able to provide
As you know, Iowa operates the Public Labor Exchange and funded by the Department of Labor to assist veterans.
While it is available to all populations, veterans are given priority within
the services. The services and assistance offered range from employment
preparation, comprehensive employment placement services, to intensive services
through case management.
The levels of
education, in the past year, 19,687 veterans received services through Iowa
Workforce Development. Of those, 1,074 were less than a high school education;
9,000, or 45.7 percent, had a high school degree; and 31 percent had above that
or a certificate.
Talk about the
average wage and the length of unemployment. We are not able to provide that,
as far as how many -- if there is a correlation between the age and the number
The USERRA cases
you could read there. Since 2007, you have seen a decline. One of the things,
we work really hard with the Employer Support for Guard and Reserve, the
Chamber of Commerce, the employer groups, the gentleman from Principal, and
Kelly. We do presentations to employers to really talk about what the law
requires and to try to be proactive versus reactive, as far as taking care of
So our cases have
gone down. Now one of the anomalies, of course, is the big deployment. So
coming back, we will see if all our work has paid off. So far, it has. Our
number of cases are down.
Right now, I have
only got one active case. So good things are happening. So, any questions?
[The statement of
Anthony Smithhart appears in the Appendix.]
Mr. STUTZMAN. Thank
My name is Teresa
Wahlert, and I am the director at Iowa Workforce Development.
I am not going to
read through my testimony. I am just going to recognize a couple of things
that we are doing at Workforce Development.
I know, of
course, you have heard a lot from the representatives here on any number of
issues, which, of course, are all contained in my written testimony. But the
one area I would really like to talk about here today is the area of new
deployment of technology that Iowa Workforce Development has been involved in
for the past 6 months or so.
One of the things
we recognized at Iowa Workforce Development was the issue of connectivity between
a veteran or a National Guard/Reservist and the working world and how to really
connect people with jobs. And so, we thought that it might be a great
opportunity to really go out and visit with the National Guard as to how do
they really connect their servicemen and women back into the community when
they come home?
And it is through
those discussions that I am proud to say that on the 27th of July, we announced
the first in the Nation partnership with the Iowa National Guard. With our
access point technology, we are going to deploy services to veterans and
returning Guard members in all of their 43 armories. So we are really trying
to put access to services onto the campuses and in the areas where returning
soldiers are most comfortable.
I am also proud
to say that, as of this past Friday, we have deployed 261 of these access
points throughout the State of Iowa. We have over 850 new workstations that
people can use. So not only at the armories, but in all of these other
locations throughout the State of Iowa.
We have a current
list of about 120-some to install here in the next 2 or 3 weeks, and we have a
list of interested partners outside of the National Guard, which include over
900 more partnerships throughout the State of Iowa for access to this
technology, where we have things like job openings, things like career
services, things for unemployment, opportunities for businesses to also see
where there are services there for them.
Although we are a
small State and have a small grant, we do deploy our DVOPs into all of our
integrated centers. We have 16 integrated centers where we have specialists in
all sorts of areas to assist and help not only all job seekers, but
specifically, as Mr. Smithhart mentioned, veterans and National Guard folks.
We have brochures
that go throughout the State. I have some of them out at the front table. And
it lists, of course, on the back of the brochure where each one of our 16
One-Stop shops are. The important thing about this is we have extended our
hours so that people on their own timeframe can then access our specialists,
either by a toll-free call or by a live chat opportunity session through a
Our hours now are
8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on
Saturdays. And it is interesting, although this is a pilot program, we are
finding that most of the interest and where we see our volumes increasing ever
more are on Saturdays, a day we have never been open in the past until about
the last 3 months.
So we are really
involved with this intensive deployment of services through technology, with
also making our individual specialists open and available for questions, long
hours and on Saturdays. Currently, we have converted 9 of the 43 armories that
we have in the State, and within the next 2 weeks or so, we will have the rest
of our armories converted to our new technology.
The reason this
is important is because we are putting this technology and this access onto the
Federal system, and so the National Guard actually had to carve out some
broadband capacity in order for us to be able to deploy our services, which
they did successfully accomplish in the last couple of weeks. And so, it will
only take us about another 10 days to get through to each one of the other armories.
I am proud to say
that our folks have worked very hard with National Guard and ESGR and many
other organizations that do help our returning soldiers to get a connection
back in the working world, and we will continue to try to do that throughout the
rest of the time that I intend to be working at Iowa Workforce Development.
[The statement of
Teresa Wahlert appears in the Appendix.
A couple of
questions, and I will start with Colonel Corell. Could you talk just a little
bit about your veterans? How many are unemployed, who they are, the challenges
that they have, and what they are hearing as they are out pursuing work.
I will do the best I can, and when I can, I will pass to Mark. He has, I
think, got some of that data for me as well.
There was three
specific questions that when I got this were kind of contained of what your
question is right now. Current level for unemployment, members in the Iowa National
Guard, and this goes back as an aggregate of Army and Air Guard collectively,
the most recent data we have is in August, which probably isn't a good
representation of those of the brigade combat team that just came back.
At 7 percent unemployment
in August, I believe that what we are tracking today, for those members of the
brigade combat team that just came back, we had 630 that were unemployed prior
to the mobilization and 721 that we are tracking post mobilization, post deployment
that are unemployed, looking for work. So somewhere in the figures of before
deployment, 15 to 20 percent unemployment to now 20 to 25 percent unemployment
within that small group.
Reasons why? I
think probably, you know, I think the increase, just like Captain Robinson
indicated, was we had a lot of people that were on duty that had a job for a
couple of years prior to the mobilization. And we knew the brigade was going
to go out the door within this window. So with that comes the resources and Federal
funding to bring more people on to get the organization ready to go out the door.
So I think that is a significant number.
I think when we
go through the Yellow Ribbon process -- we have completed Yellow Ribbon 1 events
across the brigade combat team. I think as we go into the Yellow Ribbon 2, I
think that as we track that information, I think we are going to be a little
bit healthier than what these numbers indicate because I believe that, in some
cases, people are going to go back to school because of the benefits that they
It is in their
best interest, number one, to get the education. But number two, with the incentives
from the GI bill, post-9/11, they can get paid a pretty decent wage just to go
to school as well. So I think that will mitigate some of that and get us
through these difficult times that we are in, plus make them more marketable
with a higher education as well.
Did I answer what
you were looking for?
Yes, and Mr. Hennessey, any personal observations?
Just from personal observations, what I am hearing is that individuals that are
coming back, some of them feel that they are underemployed now. That they had
a command role or a leadership role in the Guard and Reserve or active duty and
have come back and have decided, no, this is not -- my civilian job is not
really what I am looking for right now. And then, again, it is how to
translate that experience and find that right opportunity.
We see a lot of
opportunities. One of the things that I have seen out there, we talked earlier
about job boards. One of the things, just for future reference, if you look at
a job board called "indeed.com" and do a search just on your local
area, I think you will be amazed at the number of openings that are out there.
So there are jobs
out there for individuals that really want to work. The problem is matching
those up with those individuals that are looking for the work and then getting
the employers to find those individuals.
Okay. Mr. Smithhart, how many veteran job placements did Iowa State Workforce
complete in the last year, roughly?
Mr. SMITHHART. I
did not bring that information with me, but I will provide it to the committee.
Okay. Okay, that is fine.
And then, Ms.
Wahlert, what -- and I will maybe reference this back to Mr. Smithhart. And I
guess one of the comments that Captain Robinson mentioned about his friend the
welder, and I think any time whenever men and women go into the military and
they come out, obviously, we want them to better themselves and move on to
But the welder
situation, did that cause any concern with you about the situation, him coming
back and not having a job?
Absolutely, sir. A lot of the information that Captain Robinson and the staff
sergeant said really hit home because every day that is what we deal with. You
know, we really want to help those folks.
And especially in
the Des Moines area, for that welder person, we have John Deere there that is
hiring. They probably have 40 or 50 openings. I don't know if Stacy could tell
me. In the Ankeny office area, we have a lot of openings and work really
closely with them to do that.
So it is really
-- there is a shortcoming in ours, within the Department of Labor and Workforce,
of trying to match those individuals and for them to identify their skills and
make sure that that match is what the employer needs. Because there are seats
out there. We just have to be able to get that person.
Now we are
working with our current initiatives. In the Des Moines area, we are going to
do a State-wide job fair on November 8th with the Employer Support for Guard
and Reserve. And to start that, on November 5th, we are going to have an employment
program that will teach people how to present themselves, how to demilitarize
We are going to
bring in -- with the Employer Support for Guard and Reserve, we are going to
bring in civilian employers to do mock interviews that afternoon to help those
individuals do that. We are going to follow that up with a seminar on how to
market yourself at a career fair, at a job fair. And then we are going to have
the big job fair November 8th.
And it is a
State-wide one. So it is going to include from all, from Dubuque. You have
got employers from all over the State. Right now, we have 50 employers.
Now the key is,
as Colonel Corell and a lot of other individuals have said, it is getting the
individuals to attend. We did the series of these seminars around the State.
Did one in Waterloo on September 13th. We had to cancel it. We didn't have
We just canceled
one this week in Sioux City, again because we only had two individuals that
signed up in that area. The ones that have come, they have been very happy.
We have tested it, refined it. And so, it is really -- the captain and the
staff sergeant really hit home. It is to get the individuals that could use it
and benefit, to get them to actually produce because unlike the active duty
folks, these folks don't get paid to be there.
Corell can attest, on a weekend drill, there is a lot of activities going on
there that can we fit this in? That is the command's thing, and I don't know.
So there is a lot going on. It is just -- it is really we are missing getting
it to the right individuals.
But the employers are there. The soldiers are there to match them, I don't
Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
One of the things
that I need to do is embarrass Colonel Corell at this point because he has been
a great asset to me during my entire period serving in Congress. But one of
the things that was not mentioned was that all three of his sons are members of
the Iowa National Guard and have deployed and served under their father in
either Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
And that is an
extraordinary part of the legacy of Iowa's proud military heritage. I can't
think of any place better to recognize that service than here in the home of
the five Sullivan brothers.
And Mr. Chairman,
on Memorial Day weekend of 2007, CBS News devoted its entire 60 Minutes program
to the extraordinary work of the Iowa National Guard in a program called
"Fathers, Sons, and Brothers" that won an Emmy. And I think that it
was a great way to honor the incredible sacrifice that all of our men and women
in uniform make. But we are very, very proud of our National Guard, and I just
wanted to make that point.
To follow up on
another point you raised, Colonel, and that is the extraordinary burden placed
on our Guard and Reserve units even when they are not deployed in combat. And
all you have to do is look at my brief career in Congress, and I just was
thinking about this.
February of 2007,
I was sworn in in January. We had an ice storm that cost 500,000 people power
in this State, and the Guard was out helping. I worked with them. Then you
had the demobilization from Iraq, and all the welcome home ceremonies and all of the
same things we are dealing with now after this Afghanistan demobilization.
2008, in May, we
had the worst tornado in the country here in this district, followed by the
worst flooding in our State. And the Guard was active and involved in that.
June of 2010, more flooding in our State, and the mobilization to Afghanistan with an extraordinary burden on the Guard. And then, this year, we have the
demobilization and more record-setting flooding in our State.
And I think that
is a microcosm of the challenges that you were talking about when employers are
constantly being stressed on their own level from all of these natural
disasters. They have their own workforce being disrupted, and I think we don't
talk enough about these challenges and the extraordinary work that employers do
who continue to live up to their commitment under USERRA.
So, with that as
a backdrop, how does that impact the work you and the other people at Camp Dodge are doing to try to keep this cohesion together?
I think the employers that we work with -- through the dedication of the ESGR
folks, the dedication of the leadership of the Iowa Guard -- doing the outreach
to inform and educate, I think it has bought us a lot. My concern is at some
point, we are going to run out of that goodwill, and I think we are right on
the edge of that, if we are not already past it.
And I think it
comes back to there has got to be some incentive, and whatever that is, whether
it is small, it doesn't matter. But something that you can go in and leverage
from an employer standpoint of those people that are out seeking veterans or National
Guard and Reserve soldiers, looking to fill those vacancies in the workplace.
There has got to be some leverage tool, and I will let you guys figure out the
nug work on it. I can't tell you what that incentive is, but I think it has
got to be something.
Day to day, we
are out working it. It is just like those soldiers that continue to refine
their resume. You can only do that so long. You can only send it out so many
times before you reach the point of frustration. You can only go to so many
job fairs. There has got to be a way to stick a pole in there and move
yourself up the ladder of potential candidates, and the way to do that is to
make some sort of incentive to do it.
So is it hard
work? Are we concerned about it? Every day we are. And that is why there is
so much effort that has been put into our relationships with our employers,
relationships with the Workforce Development folks to bring those access points
into our armories. Because we know how critical it is because, number one,
just because of the cost, you take the cost effectiveness of the Guard and Reserve,
when you look at the cost of manning a full-time military.
And you all know
that better than what I do. But we have got to have a way for those National Guard/Reserve
component soldiers to feed their families in the interim when we don't need
them to be called up for some type of a peacekeeping mission, combat operation,
or a domestic need here at home. And that is really what we are focused on and
why we are here today and why this is so important to us.
Well, I appreciate that, and we have talked previously about the Work
Opportunity Tax Credit. And one of the things that I have introduced in
Congress is a bill called the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act, modeled on the
previous back to work incentives we had for employers to hire unemployed
workers by giving them a break on their FICA taxes on the front end if they
hire an unemployed worker, in this case an unemployed veteran, and then if they
keep them on the payroll for a year, another modest, but important incentive so
that we get more longevity out of those initial hires.
And I think you
are right. It is not going to make somebody decide to hire an employee, but if
they are thinking about expanding their workforce, and we give them added
incentives to get an unemployed veteran back to work, I think it can make a
I agree, and I think the panel number two that had our friends in the corporate
world here, they touched on it a little bit. Once they get those either former
active duty military veterans in the door or the members of the Guard and Reserve
in the door, they are great employees. And they are so good and so valuable to
them, they are going to give them a pay offset when they do get called back to
active duty that they will match whatever money shortfall there is between what
they are making in the military and what they would make at their civilian job.
Give us the
opportunity. I think that is what we are saying is get us the incentive to get
us in the door. We will sink or swim on our own merits, but we are looking for
a leverage point, an incentive to get us in the door. And that is the
difference that I am talking about.
Ms. WAHLERT, I
want to thank you for the tremendous work that your office is doing to try to
address this. And you talked a little bit about some of the unique challenges
a State like Iowa has.
And you have
talked about how you are deploying new technology and trying to make it
available in more service areas. One of the things you talked about was the
deployment of 261 workstations. And since we have 45 armories and 16 veteran
representative offices, can you give us some examples of where those other workstations
Ms. WAHLERT. Let
me just -- I would love to, Congressman. Let me just first clarify that 261
are new offices, new locations. We have over 800 workstations within each one
of those new opportunities.
For instance, we have also partnered with the Veterans Affairs offices.
They are in every county seat. We are in courthouses. We are in
halfway houses. We are in correctional institutions. We are at the
three regent colleges. We are on many private university and college campus in the State of Iowa. We are in 13
of 15 community colleges and all of their campuses.
We are at
Goodwill. We are at faith-based organizations. We are at any place that can
have public traffic other than the National Guard because we understand the
special nature of the National Guard with soldiers and their families.
So the thought
here is the next place we are going to try to deliver the technology is through
all of the high schools within the State of Iowa. There are 359 high schools.
And the point of this is to, first, be able to have access to services, but to
also have people understand what the expectation is of the corporate world when
they go into the corporate world, whether it be out of high school or whether
it be coming back from Afghanistan.
important thing I just wanted to mention that seems to be ironic. I am from
the business world, and so I bring kind of panel two with me when I came into
this opportunity. And you would be amazed over the last 3 or 4 months. I have
had new incentive business outreach by all of Workforce Development, and we
have had a number of calls from small and medium-sized businesses who are
crying for welders throughout the State.
And who are
crying for a lot of the kinds of technical programs and project management that
you would assume that a returning serviceperson would have in their resume.
And many of these companies have never thought of or considered hiring a veteran.
And so, of
course, we are now instituting an outreach from our office to help businesses,
and the first folks we call, of course, are veterans within that geographical
area. We can also understand where they are from, from their zip code area.
But one of the things you really always need, and we have discussed this with
the Guard on several meetings, and that is you need to have that continual hook
back to the veteran, back to the Reservist so that when they have their
downtime, when they are coming back into the community and reenergizing
themselves, sometimes there is just not the effort to go to an office or to get
in the car and go somewhere.
And part of the
process we do is we make sure everybody has an email account. And so, that if
it is midnight or if it is 2:00 a.m. or whenever the right time is for that
person to go and to look at jobs or to work on their resume or to actually see
what is new for them in their area, we have a way to connect with them. All
those email services are free, just like our toll-free number and our live chat
options as well.
And so, the
connection we make is really important. My goal is by the end of the year,
Congressman, to have it so that there is no city or town in the State of Iowa that you drive through that there are not access points in.
Great. Thank you very much.
And I will yield
Okay. Thank you.
our oversight hearing today. I just want to say in closing to our Iowa veterans that the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs is committed to this issue, and
I know Congressman Braley and I especially are very interested and want to help
make sure that any veteran who wants a job gets one.
And I know it is
a tall order, but our chairman, Jeff Miller from Florida, has said that he
wants to reduce unemployment for veterans to less than 5 percent or half of
what it is currently. So that is a tall order, but I believe, working
together, we can all accomplish that.
And one final
thing, and I know that the Colonel will appreciate this. Last week, the House
passed a bill that was introduced by Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota that
will allow retirees of the Guard and Reserves to be called veterans.
You know, it
seems like a long time coming. But we passed that in the House, and I know
while this bill doesn't bestow any additional benefits, I definitely believe
that it is worthy and needs the recognition. You all deserve the recognition
to be called veterans for your service.
Mr. BRALEY, any
Mr. BRALEY. No,
I just want to comment on that last statement because former Sergeant Major Tim
Walz from Minnesota worked very closely with me and other Members of Congress
to get much-needed benefits for the Iowa National Guard when they came home
from Iraq. And because of his real world experience in that capacity, he had
an extraordinary voice, and we were very proud that we were finally able to
make that happen last week.
But I do also want to apologize to Mr. Smithhart and Mr. Hennessey. Because of the lack of
time, and I know the chairman has to catch a flight, I did want to highlight a
very important event that is coming up that you mentioned, Mr. Smithhart.
And that is there
is a State-wide Hiring Our Heroes job fair in Des Moines on November 8, 2011.
It is going to be at Hy-Vee Hall from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and the U.S.
Chamber, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Employer Support of Guard and
Reserve, and DMAC and others are going to be there. And I hope that this is
the first step in a very long process to address some of the concerns we have
talked about here today.
Thank you both
for your willingness to be here today and share your testimony with us, and to
all the great witnesses who joined us today.
And I will yield
Okay. Thank you.
I want to thank
everyone for being here today -- to the witnesses for your testimony, to those
who have served, thank you for your service. Thank our staff as well for their
hard work in helping set this meeting up.
forward to having Mr. Braley in Fort Wayne. You will find the same
hospitality, I am sure, in Indiana as I have here in Iowa. And I have enjoyed
being here, and it feels very much like home.
So I want to ask
unanimous consent that all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend
objection, so ordered.
Mr. STUTZMAN. Thank
you again, and this hearing is now adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:55
a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
Good morning. I am delighted to be here in Waterloo with
your Congressman, Bruce Braley and I thank him for bringing us to his
district. My name is Marlin Stutzman. I am the Chairman of the House
Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, and represent Indiana’s
3rd Congressional District in northeast Indiana. I have Iowa ties-
my great-grandparents lived in Washington, Iowa, and are buried there. My aunt
was born on Independence Day in Independence Iowa, where she lived alongside my
grandparents. My district is very similar to Iowa’s first Congressional
District. We are very proud of our Midwestern values and proud of America. In
northeast Indiana, we are especially proud of our 48,000 veterans who have
served our nation. I am honored to serve as their voice in Congress and serve
alongside Ranking Member Bruce Braley, who is a great member, veterans
advocate, and a friend.
We are here today to here from Iowans about the employment
difficulties facing far too many members of the Iowa National Guard, the
Reserves, and those returning from active duty. While the unemployment rate
for all Iowa veterans in September was 5.8 percent, data from the Bureau of
Labor Statistics show that 35.6 percent of America’s Gulf Era II veterans ages
20 to 24 were unemployed, while 8.8 percent of Gulf Era II veterans ages 25-54
More shocking is anecdotal information that as much as 30
percent of returning members of the Guard and Reserves do not come home to a
job. Clearly, we need to find ways to reduce all of those numbers. The House
Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has taken a first step toward that end last week
by passing H.R. 2433, a bill that would provide up to a year of GI Bill
benefits to unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60. The bill now
goes to the Senate and we hope to get the bill to the President by Veterans Day
along with several other improvements to veterans benefits.
Again, I am delighted to be with you today and I will now
yield to the gentleman whose office is next to mine, the distinguished Ranking
Member of the Subcommittee, my good friend, the Honorable Bruce Braley.
I am honored to hold this field hearing today
here in Waterloo and would like to welcome Chairman Marlin Stutzman to my
hometown, my district and the great state of Iowa. I know you will enjoy your
visit here with the good folks from Iowa.
In July and August of this year, over 3000
Iowa National Guard troops returned from active duty in Afghanistan, and we
have a number of these hard working Guardsmen looking for jobs. Iowa and our
service members, National Guard, Reservists, and veterans are not immune to the
economic hardships facing the rest of the country. That is why I am glad to
have the opportunity today to hear about these growing concerns surrounding
veterans; specifically, employment, transition, and education matters affecting
National Guard Members, Reservists and veterans in Iowa, and across the
nation. This is a great opportunity to be part of an open discussion to find
solutions to these problems.
Transitioning services are critical for the
success of our men and women in the Armed Forces. Joining the military is not
just about following orders and completing the mission, it’s a way of life. But
when it’s time to join the civilian world, it can sometimes be a challenge to
translate skills learned in the military into talking points on a job resume.
That’s why it is crucial that transitioning services should be provided to everyone
leaving the military.
An education can help you learn a new skill
or reinforce the skills you already know, but it can also help you adapt as a
civilian. The Committee recognizes the importance of service members and
veterans pursuing an education which is why we continue to fight so hard to improve
education benefits. Current education benefits allows certain veterans to
attend school full-time while getting a housing stipend, thus allowing veterans
to be fully engaged in academics.
We are all well aware of the current
employment crisis facing our nation. With an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent
in Iowa, I am constantly working with my colleagues in Congress to find
solutions to the recent economic downturn. I understand how these hardships
can be, and I find the high unemployment rate for veterans unacceptable.
Earlier this year I
introduced a bill to cut payroll taxes for businesses that hire unemployed
veterans. The Combat Veterans Back to Work Act provides employers with a
payroll tax break if they hire recently returned veterans who are unemployed.
After their distinguished service in Afghanistan and Iraq, we should do all we
can to help veterans and members of the Iowa Guard find employment in their communities.
This legislation will support our friends and neighbors in the Iowa National
Guard, Reserves, and other military branches who have recently returned home and
face a difficult job market.
Today I look forward to hearing from Iowa
National Guard Members about some of the challenges they face as they make the
transition back into society after serving overseas. I have invited local
businesses to testify to hear about initiatives they are taking to get veterans
back to work. I also look forward to hearing from different agencies and the
work they are doing related to veterans employment.
I hope we can all have an open and honest dialogue
about problems and concerns facing our veterans today that will continue after
this hearing in Washington, DC as we work together to address these issues. Service
members and veterans are dedicated and hard working. Their experience is
invaluable. Thousands of Iowans have returned home after serving proudly
overseas this past year alone. Now we must support them and help them
transition their great experience and talent back into the Iowa workforce.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to this hearing.
Thank you and I yield back.
Chairman Stutzman, Ranking Member Braley
and Members of the Subcommittee. I would like to extend my gratitude for being
given the opportunity to testify at this hearing today. It is an honor to lend
my voice to my fellow veterans and the ongoing economic struggles we face.
My Name is Nathaniel Rose. I am
currently a Staff Sergeant in the Iowa Army National Guard as well as a senior
at the University of Iowa. I have been deployed to Iraq and I have just
returned from a deployment to Afghanistan in July. To help pay for my studies I
currently receive the GI Bill along with state and federal tuition assistance.
I speak based solely on my experiences in the Iowa Army National Guard and
experiences of those that have served with me. I cannot accurately speak regarding
any other branch of service or any other state’s National Guard.
I decided to join the National Guard
during my freshman year of college, looking for adventure, but also for
economic reasons. I come from a hard working middle class family and if I
wanted to attend college I would have to pay for it myself. I did not receive
many scholarships and I did not want to incur a large amount of student loan
debt so I joined the National Guard because the tuition assistance and GI Bill
would pay for my education. If it wasn’t for tuition assistance and the GI
Bill I might have quit going to school or not have joined the National Guard at
all. Joining the military is a very hard decision to make but the benefits one
might receive help make the decision easier.
The GI Bill has been one benefit that I
have come to appreciate more over time. When I first began receiving the
benefit it was not a large amount. This was fine because state and federal
tuition assistance paid for all my tuition and fees and I could use the GI Bill
for other things. After two deployments I now receive a much larger amount
because it is prorated based off the active duty amount and how much time I’ve
spent deployed. The amount is actually enough, when coupled with my drill pay every
month, that I do not have to work. I am able to concentrate completely on my
studies, which any senior will tell you, is a hard thing to do.
I, however, do not have all the
obligations that a number of soldiers I know have. I have no wife, no children,
no car payments and so on. Many National Guard soldiers cannot go to school
full time and take care of their family with tuition assistance and GI Bill
alone, especially if they have not been deployed and receive a smaller
pro-rated amount. This forces them to work while attending school. There is
nothing wrong with working while going to school but for some soldiers I know
personally they have had to stop going because they needed to move to full time
at work, their grades were slipping or they weren’t spending as much time with
their family as they wanted to. The Post 9/11 GI Bill has attempted to address
some of these issues by paying basic allowance for housing to students. The
only problem with this is that once again it is pro-rated for National Guard
members. One solution to this problem might be to have National Guard members
pay into the GI Bill like active duty members do. Another possible solution
would be to put everyone on the same level and not pro-rate the payments.
Neither of these solutions is perfect but they might be a good starting point.
Education benefits, to me, seem more
complicated. If a soldier doesn’t sit down with an expert it’s hard to figure
out the ins and outs of the benefits. The difference between the 5 GI Bill
programs is not easily ascertained by looking at the website or reading
pamphlets. If soldiers are better informed about their benefits it’s easier for
them make decisions about whether they can afford to go back to school or not,
especially those with families. The GI Bill needs take into account that
soldiers do have families. They may not be able to support a family and go to
school at the same time.
The National Guard has delayed my
education twice but I cannot fault them for that because they are essentially
paying for it. Also I believe that my time in the National Guard has made me a
more marketable person and when my education is over I hope being more
marketable aids me in securing not just a job but a career. The problem with
this is how do I convey to potential employers the significance of what I’ve
done, experienced and learned in the National Guard?
Resumes are the most popular way of
conveying these things. Some of my experiences are difficult to put in a resume.
If I put “led over 150 combat missions in Afghanistan” in my resume most
employers would not understand the significance of that nor would many soldiers
know how to convert that into a resume friendly statement. One way soldiers
could translate their skills into civilian terms would be to get help from a
resume writing professional. I could receive help on my resume from the career
center at my school but I feel that they don’t understand what I’ve done either,
so the significance of it won’t be conveyed in my resume if they help me. I’m
lucky enough to go to a school that has a large veteran population, someone is
always available to critique my resume if need be. Many National Guard soldiers
are not that lucky and must either drive long distances or email resumes to
more qualified help. Educating job recruiters or resume helpers better on the
military may help remedy the problem, but it is easier said than done. I
believe that by bringing in military resume writing professionals on drill
weekends or by incorporating them more at demobilization
sites might be the help that soldiers need.
I am set to graduate in May and I have
been exploring job possibilities and what I am qualified for. The economy may
be down but there is a plethora of job postings on internet job search sights,
companies’ websites, in newspapers, etc. The hard part becomes determining what
employers are looking for and if I am qualified. I have spoken to many soldiers
since returning from Afghanistan and this process is the one that they are
having the most trouble with. A suggestion that a fellow veteran presented to
me would be to bring job recruiters from the mobilized units’ area to the
demobilization site and recruit from there. Soldiers and recruiters would have
a chance to speak about qualifications, job descriptions and even do interviews
if need be. Even if soldiers did not get hired they would have an understanding
of what employers are looking for and how to better prepare themselves for the
job search once their mobilization is over.
Another cause for problems is that many
civilian employers don’t know enough about the military to effectively hire or
help a veteran. If soldiers can learn to effectively market themselves and
civilian employers can learn more about the military both sides could reach a common
ground so soldiers aren’t passed over for jobs and employers don’t miss
opportunities to hire great workers.
I appreciate what the government and the
military has done for me but I think more can be done to help soldiers,
sailors, airman and marines. I have noticed things improving in my six years in
the military, from drill to drill and deployment to deployment. There are many
new programs starting up throughout the country and within our government that
are dedicated to helping veterans which is a sign of forward progress. Mr.
Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I would be honored to answer any
questions that the committee might have. Thank you for giving me the
opportunity to testify and thank you for all that this committee does for my
Name is Aaron Robinson. I reside with my wife and two children in Des Moines. I
am a commissioned officer in the Iowa Army National Guard. I recently returned
from a one-year deployment to Afghanistan. In my civilian career, I am
currently pursuing jobs related to business, Project Management or
I want to share with you today three impressions I have from looking for a
repeated military deployments have given Iowans like me world-class skills and
experiences, but that these are not widely recognized or rewarded when
searching for civilian work in our home state.
employers are nearing the exhaustion of their patriotic feelings toward
veterans. Despite the existing laws protecting against discrimination based on
military service, employers seem to shy away from hiring citizen-soldiers.
searching for a job while deployed overseas is next to impossible—and waiting
until after deployment adds more stress to an already stressful
situation: reintegration with family and friends.
me tell you where I’m coming from:
grew up on a farm approximately an hour west of Des Moines in Yale, and
graduated from Perry High School in 1992. I studied Mass Communication at Grand
View College in Des Moines. After college, I bounced around various retail jobs.
I enlisted with the Iowa National Guard in 1998, and was trained as a tank
2002, I commissioned as an officer specializing in tanks and other armored
vehicles. I married my wife Katie, in 2003 and I deployed to Kosovo, where I
commanded a platoon. My first child, Amelia, was born while I was overseas.
I returned home, I transferred to Military Intelligence and attended multiple
military schools. In my civilian career, I worked as an employment counselor for
homeless veterans, and as a general manager of a convenience store. After that
I spent a number of years on temporary full-time active-duty here in Iowa,
helping train and mobilize more than 16 National Guard units for overseas
year, I was deployed to Afghanistan where I served as the Intelligence Officer
of Iowa’s 113th Cavalry Squadron. The experiences that I received
there were excellent and I could not have received them anywhere else. Since coming
home to Iowa in late July, I have been steadily seeking employment. As of
today, however, I have been unable to find work.
am not alone.
example an enlisted soldier friend of mine was the database manager for our
unit’s personnel records pertaining to security clearances. (That’s 500
records—the size of a good-sized company.) However, now that he’s back at home,
civilian employers don’t seem to recognize his abilities to learn new computer
systems, and to manage highly sensitive data on a daily basis. To add insult
to injury, he can’t even find work in his old civilian occupation—he’s a
I’ve faced similar challenges to that of
my friend, trying to figure out how to translate military language into
civilian Human Resources-speak. After some resume coaching, I found my work in
intelligence most closely applies to business analysis and project management.
However, unlike my purely civilian counterparts, I’m not necessarily versed in
the latest business acronyms and buzz-phrases, which decreases the likelihood
of getting through H.R. filters. Also, while I am proficient in military
computer software and hardware, I am not specifically trained in systems
most-familiar to potential civilian employers.
Employers, politicians, and even the
media talk up certain ideas about veterans: that we’re hard-working and
motivated, that we’re mission- and people-focused, and that we handle pressure
extremely well. Beyond this, however, and the occasional job-fair and “welcome
home” PowerPoint show, veterans don’t seem to get a lot of practical help in
getting hired. I have said many times that everyone wants to help, but no one
seems to know how. I have received lots of well intended suggestions,
sometimes conflicting, but none of them have gotten me much farther in my job
Maybe employers are getting burned out.
Ten years of war—and Iowa’s river floods and blizzards and other state
emergencies—might do that. Maybe they’re worried that we’re going to get
deployed again. Maybe they really don’t see the economic values inherent in our
military skills and experiences.
I know times are tough for a lot of
Iowans. I don’t want to get a job just because I am a returning veteran, but I
would at least like a chance to get to an interview and prove I am a good
employee. I also want to keep my family in Iowa, to give my kids the same kind
of values and experiences I had.
For now, however, our life is on hold. The
military gave me time off after the deployment to unwind and reintegrate into
“normal” life. I do not feel like I have done that. I plan to go back to
school, but I am putting that off because of a lack of stability in my life and
the life of my family. Interviewers do not ask me about my military experience,
but they know it is there. If I didn’t put it on my resume, you would be able
to tell just from talking to me. I am proud of the work I have done and the
people with whom I have served.
I’m just an Iowa farm kid that just got
a chance do some exciting things, in some pretty unpleasant places, with some
really great people. I just want to get back to my civilian life, get a normal
job, and be a regular person for a while.
family would like that, too.
you for this opportunity to talk about my experiences looking for employment.
Congressman Braley and distinguished
Members of the Committee, my name is Stacy Litchfield. I am the United States
Regional Manager, Talent Acquisition for Deere & Company. On behalf of John
Deere, thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today on this
Deere is a worldwide leader in providing advanced products and services for
agriculture, forestry, construction, turf care, landscaping and irrigation.
We’re a leading manufacturer of off-highway diesel engines and one of the
largest equipment finance companies in the United States. We have operations in
30 U.S. states.
Attracting Veterans at John Deere
As an employer, we focus on attracting, developing and
retaining the best global talent from all backgrounds. At times our recruiting
efforts focus on access and visibility to specific groups. One is veterans. We
identify organizations that provide the broadest reach and help our staffing
team leverage various military recruiting initiatives and related events.
John Deere staffing participates in several recruiting
events targeting veterans, including career fairs, conferences and virtual
We also work directly with the military when
appropriate. We’ve participated in the Army Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) Program
since its inception. Young men and women can enter the service knowing that
they will receive specialized training and develop skills that are in demand in
the private and public sectors, and Deere gets access to a pool of skilled
John Deere is also active in a variety of outreach programs and job
boards that help us connect with veterans who offer a broad array of skills and
experience. We also work with military staffing organizations to recruit
veterans. For example, the Army Partnership Program, a job posting and resume
database, has provided us with candidates for both mid-career and wage
employing veterans, we support programs that help veterans start businesses and
become suppliers to companies like ours. Our suppliers include about 200
veteran-owned businesses, and about 50 businesses owned by service-disabled
Developing and Retaining Veterans at John Deere
At John Deere, we recognize that engaged employees
working together create a competitive advantage. We cultivate an environment of
inclusive teamwork through programs such as our employee networks. One of these
resource groups is composed of employees who have a connection to the U.S.
military. The group brings employees together to build relationships, provide
support and sponsor military outreach activities.
Deere also has military leave of absence provisions
for reservists and guardsmen who are called up for active duty in Iraq and
Afghanistan. To help ease the financial hardship endured by these soldiers and
their families, Deere voluntarily provides up to two years of differential pay where
applicable along with health benefits, life
insurance, and other benefits. The impact on retention has been significant.
Since 2001, more than 200 Deere employees have been deployed. Over 96 percent
of those soldiers still work for John Deere.
Decreasing Unemployment among Veterans
Even though veterans are purposely included in our
recruiting, development and retention efforts, we face challenges in
effectively bringing them into our organization.
First, with the variety of organizations and job boards available, it’s
difficult to determine the best way to connect with job candidates from the
Our recommendation would be a central data source that
offers links to standardized job, industry, and geographic classification codes
to other reported federal labor, employment, economic and census data. This
would help improve results for job posting visibility among the right
Additionally, many veterans are challenged to
translate their education and skills to fit requirements for non-military
positions. Transitioning military may also be at a disadvantage without
accreditation or certification required by some professions.
To remedy this, all levels of government could
implement solutions that effectively balance current challenges with
educational system gaps, the accreditation of job seekers, and the fiscal
demands and resources of employers.
closing, I want to highlight again the importance, priority and demonstrated
focus John Deere places on hiring, outreach, skill development and training of
Thank you again for the opportunity to share our views on
improving employment opportunities for veterans. I will be happy to respond to
Prepared Statement of Major Kerry M. Studer, USA, Assistant
Managing Director, Commercial Real Estate Division, Principal Financial Group,
Chairman Stutzman, Ranking Member Braley and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Principal Financial Group's commitment to protecting the job rights of veterans and Guard/Reserve members.
am Kerry Studer, a recently deployed Anny Major and assistant managing director in the commercial real estate division of the Principal Financial Group. I have been mobilized for deployments three times in my military career and have had the opportunity to see firsthand how two different employers and one university handled my time away from the office or school. My most recent deployment was in 2009-20 I 0 when I was employed with the Principal Financial Group.
The Principal Financial Group, based in Des Moines Iowa, is a FORTUNE 500 company and a retirement and global investment management leader. We have roughly 8,900 employees in Iowa and more than 13,000 worldwide.
The Principal offers businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services, including retirement, investment services and insurance.
an employer with more than 200 veteran and active military employees and the experience of having nine employees on emergency military leave in the last two years, The Principal is
committed to protecting the job rights of employees who serve their state and country through the uniformed services.
I am here today to talk with you about that commitment.
We, as employers, have clearly come a long ways in supporting Soldiers and families since
my first deployment in 1990 for Desert Shield/Desert Storm. While I have clearly seen
improvements over my 22 years of military service, I had the opportunity during my last deployment to
command over 300 Soldiers from 19 different states, and I saw firsthand how
Soldiers view the ir
civilian employer while they are deployed.
Personally, I had the benefit of working for an exceptional company that clearly supported me, my
family and my unit. Given this experience, I was asked by our Chairman, President and CEO, Larry Zimpleman, to testify here today to discuss insights on how employers can successfully support their Soldiers whether they are deployed or serving in a peacetime mission.
Recruiting and Retention
first step in the process is recruitment and retention. The Principal has
targeted outreach efforts in order to attract and retain members of the
military. We maintain an ai11nnative action plan for covered veterans and
actively pursue good faith efforts in recruiting practices to target veterans
and individuals with a military background.
- Our recruiting team receives
education and awareness through our partnership with Iowa Works, Iowa ESGR and
US Department of Veteran's Affairs.
- In return, our recruiting team is
available to train Iowa veterans on interview and resume writing skills as they
re-enter the workforce.
- We post job opportunities on
military-specific websites, and recruitment representatives attend military
related job fairs.
- We have a designated HR department
that manages military leaves, USERRA requirements, etc. In addition, we provide
USERRA information to leaders to raise their awareness.
- We have a very active
internship/co-op program, which I personally do a fair amount of recruiting
for, with the help of our campus relations group in Human Resources. We have
been successful in hiring previously deployed veterans who are currently
completing their four-year degrees. These students have already had to delay
their education due to the deployment, and we see great benefit in providing an
internship or co-op to these young veterans. These internships/co-ops greatly
benefit the student/Soldier in providing a corporate experience and give us as
an employer an insight as to how we can attract some of the best talent
available before they graduate from college.
for employees who are Service Members
For employees who are service members, our military
leave policy ensures full pay for eligible emergency military leave for 30
days. In addition, we pay a differential for the remainder of the first year.
This is something we've chosen to do-not only to comply with the letter of the
law, but what we believe to be the spirit of the law.
Regarding all other benefits:
- Medical, vision
and dental coverage continue for the employee and their dependents for 12
- Regarding our
pension plan, military service is counted for vesting and accrual service.
- With our 401(k)
plan, military service is counted for vesting service. When you return from
leave, you may make up missed elective deferral contributions, and the company
will make the corresponding match based on the salary you would have received
had you remained active with the company. The time period to make up missed
payments is three times the period of military service (up to a maximum of five
In addition, reservists who volunteer for active duty
are eligible for continued pay, and we cover all service members in any
for military family members
Principal ensures military family members are taken care of. In addition to the
community of support I'll discuss later, two specific benefits help this group:
- Military Family Active Duty Leave This program allows up to 12 work weeks of unpaid
leave in a calendar year in the event an eligible family member is called to
full-time covered active duty or is on full-time active duty. The program is
designed to allow for management of family, child care or financial matters
that may arise because of a family member's covered active duty military
- Military Family Leave to Care for a Covered Service
Member or Veteran Employees are
allowed up to 26 work weeks of unpaid leave in a calendar year to care for
their spouse, parent, child or next of kin who is a covered service member.
This leave applies if the covered service member has a serious illness or
injury sustained in the line of military duty and is on active military duty. It also applies if a veteran, for up to five years after
he/she leaves the military, has a service related injury or illness that was
incurred or aggravated while on covered active duty.
support of our Military and Military Families
In addition to employee benefits, a
number of other resources contribute to a supportive environment for employees
who are members of the military, as well as their families:
- As a 2011 winner of the Freedom Award from the
Employer Support of the Reserve and Guard (ESGR), based upon my personal
nomination, our internal support for Soldiers and military families is well
documented. But I wanted to highlight just a few examples of what sets The
Principal apart from other companies.
did my company support me, my family and my unit, they took the time to
understand what deployments do to both the Soldier overseas and also the
spouse/children back home. While I-IR guidelines and corporate support are all
important to supporting deployed Soldiers, the very best companies take a
personal approach to company support and extend assistance at a very personal
is this personal touch that solidifies
the commitment both to and from the Soldier and his/her family.
a brief list of examples of those personal touches with the Soldier, the family
bringing over food to the family just to say hello and ask if anything is
- Taking the
dependent children to high school and college sporting events
- Offering to
assist with lawn care/snow removal
- Raising money 10 purchase unit specific physical fitness uniforms for
the unit overseas
- Designing and
purchasing unit coins that were distributed to Soldiers overseas
countless care packages not only to the deployed Soldier but also to other
Soldiers within the unit who maybe do not receive as many care packages
- Providing the
occasional babysitter for the state-side spouse to enjoy some time away from
the everyday grind of being a single parent
returning from military service receive education and support as they
transition back to work.
- Employees may
network with other employees via the Military Family Support Special Interest
Public Folder in our email system.
returning from military service and their families receive support from their
departments and individual employees. For instance:
- Various departments have honored those
serving in Iraq and Afghanistan by promoting Red Shirt Day and creating care
Raising awareness at The Principal The Principal
ensures its entire employee population supports its commitment to active
military and veteran employees through a number of initiatives.
- Our Chairman,
President and CEO Larry Zimpleman annually sends a personal note of thanks to
all employees who are veterans, military, guard and reserve.
- During National
Veterans Awareness Week, employees who are veterans or Guard/Reserve members
are invited to a special event honoring them for their service. A member of senior management provides the keynote address each year. In addition, we
seek ways to honor veterans each year-the nature of which vary from year to
year. This year we're providing all veterans with a lll1it coin.
- While this may
seem like a small token from senior leadership, I can assure you that this one
event has a great impact with our currently employed veterans. Not only do you
get to hear firsthand from our C-level executives, you clearly leave knowing
that your military service is valued within the halls oft he Principal Financial
Group. It is also a time for all the veterans to get together and discuss their
respective experience and service within the military ranks. Most veterans are
generally humble in nature but our senior executives take the time every year
to remind each of the veterans of their personal sacrifice and the fact that our
company genuinely appreciates our service.
- Human Resources
representatives, department leaders and senior leaders have participated in
ESGR's Boss Lift. This event familiarizes employers with the National Guard and
Reserve's role in our nation's defense by letting them experience some of what
their employees in the Guard or Reserve go through. During the 2010
event, one of the
participants blogged about her experience for the company's intranet so all
employees could gain appreciation for the Guard and Reserve.
- Our internal
communications regularly highlight military employees, veterans and military
family members for their service and sacrifices and to share their experiences
and lessons learned.
Community Outreach and Support
In addition to
supporting our own military and veteran employees, we encourage other companies
in the communities in which we have locations to develop similar programs which
we believe benefit the veterans, their families and the community at large.
leaders at The Principal personally and publicly express support of military
employees, family members and veterans through:
- Hosting an Employer Support of
Guard and Reserve Statement of Support and workshop event. This past January,
our Chairman, President and CEO Larry Zimpleman hosted ill1 event where he encouraged attendance
from other local businesses to sign the
ESGR Statement of
Support and to learn more about ESGR and the services they offer, including
hiring of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
- I was personally invited to this
event and witnessed the amount of positive influence that one company can have
on other companies within a community. Larry's comments clearly demonstrated
his and our company's sincere commitment to the members of the Guard and
Reserve. The event provided a venue for companies to discuss and ask what we
can do better to support our local military. We would encourage more of these
types of events with broader participation. If done correctly with the right
participants and support, the awareness of supporting the Guard and Reserve
will be increased exponentially.
- Participation in
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's inaugural event saluting the Iowa National Guard.
Ralph Eucher, senior vice president of human resources, attended on behalf of
- Participation in
Gov. Branstad's recent ESGR event to recognize the three Iowa nominees for the
National Freedom Award. Dan Houston, president-retirement, insurance and
financial services at The Principal, accepted the award on behalf of The
Our support extends to the
community in other ways, including:
- Placing an ad in
the Des Moines Register, thanking our veteran and military employees and
- Offering a
Military Appreciation Day during The Principal Charity Classic, one of the top
golf Champions Tour events
employees to use their eight hours of Volunteer Time Off each year, which they
can use to volunteer at an organization of their choosing, including
financial and in-kind contributions to non-profit military-related
organizations through our Foundation, including the following:
- Children of
Fallen Service Members Scholarship fund (The Principal donated $25,000 as part
of the Branstad-Reynolds Scholarship Fund.)
- Iowa National
Guard Officers Auxiliary
- Sight for
- Iowa Gold Star
- Fort Des Moines
Museum and Educational Center
- Veterans of
- Honor Flight to
In recent years, The
Principal's commitment to military and veteran employees has been recognized by
several organizations, including:
- The Above and
Beyond Award: The Principal received the "Above and Beyond" Award
from the ESGR in 2010 and 2011. The award recognizes employers at the state and
local level that have exceeded the legal requirements for granting leave and
providing support for military duty for employees who serve in the Guard &
- The Patriotic
Employer Award: The Principal received this honor from the ESGR in 2009.
- The 2011
Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award: The Principal is one of 15
recipients for 2011 out of a field of 4,049 nominations submitted by Guard and
Reserve service members. Freedom award recipients distinguish
themselves by going to extraordinary lengths to
support their military employees.
As I mentioned earlier, I have been mobilized or
deployed three times in my 22+ years of military service. Without question, The
Principal has set itself apart from all others in supporting me, my family and
While all deployments
are hard on families and Soldiers, I personally experienced what actions can be taken by a
proactive company committed to supporting deployed Soldiers. It is clearly these actions that will be remembered by
both the Soldier and his/her family long after the deployment is over and the
Soldier is back at work.
the support from The Principal, I was
able to focus completely on the critical tasks at hand in Iraq with the
knowledge that my family was taken care of, my job was waiting for me when I
got back and my co-workers were rooting for me, praying for me and supporting
me. Itmade all the difference,
type of support, you are able to be a better Soldier and a better employee when
That's why I
felt compelled to nominate The Principal for the Secretary of Defense Employer
Support Freedom Award. I'm so proud they were selected from thousands of
nominations to get the recognition I feel they so richly deserve.
Call to action
cumulative effect of all of the programs, events and activities I've mentioned
today is a work environment where military and veteran employees feel supported
in their military leave while they're away and valued for the service they've
provided to their state/country once they return. While senior management can
lead with their support and encouragement, each employee plays a role in
creating that supportive culture.
J can't say enough about the commitment our leaders
and employees have shown, personally and publicly, by expressing support of
military and veteran employees at The Principal and beyond.
I'm lucky to be a citizen of this great country, a Major
in our great Army and an employee of The Principal. I feel I've benefited from
a best case scenario in terms of the relationship between my military service
and my employment at The Principal.
What we need is for marc companies to step up and
create a platform for even more best case scenarios, so they can become the
norm, not the exception. I look forward to that happening, and I'm happy to
help in any way I can,
I'm honored to be here today, Thank you for your time.
Prepared Statement of Stacey May, Manager, Tax Credit
Program, Honkamp Krueger & Co., P.C., Dubuque, IA
to the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for veterans ages 18 to 24 in
2010 was 20.9 percent. Even more astonishing is that veterans, as a whole,
accounted for a total 1,020,000 people looking for work in the United States. To
make matters worse, on October 5, Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke warned,
while addressing Congress, that the economic recovery, as it currently stands,
“is close to faltering.” He later stated, “We need to make sure that the
recovery continues and doesn’t drop back and that the unemployment rate
continues to fall.”
sum it up, we need action, action to keep this economic recovery going and
action to make sure businesses continue to hire, otherwise, the unemployment
rate for veterans and the country as a whole will continue down a path toward
higher unemployment and further economic turmoil. I believe the core part of the
action needed to sustain a continued recovery is a permanent employment tax
credit that incentivizes businesses to hire. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit
(WOTC) does just that.
WOTC program is a perfect example of a successful government program that
rewards businesses for hiring employees from certain groups that have
consistently faced barriers in seeking employment. These groups, known as
target groups, include veterans, people on government assistance, the disabled
and ex-offenders. According to the Department of Labor, the WOTC program
processed 849,868 certificates in fiscal year 2010 that allowed employers to
claim the tax credit on their income tax return. Currently, employers that hire
qualifying employees generally may be eligible for a one-year federal income
tax credit worth anywhere from $1,200 to $4,800 and in some cases a two-year
credit worth up to $9,000. Unfortunately, the WOTC program is set to expire at
the end of the year, December 31, 2011, which would be an additional blow to
the veteran community when seeking employment.
believe that we can get our unemployed veterans back to work with the WOTC
program by making three changes.
the Work Opportunity Tax Credit permanent
its creation in 1996, the WOTC program has been up for renewal eight times. By
making the program permanent, it would add stability in the hiring process.
the program by adding a target group for hiring unemployed veterans
Obama mentioned this in his proposed American Jobs Bill, naming it the
Returning Heroes Tax Credit. It would allow unemployed veterans to qualify
their employer for WOTC.
the maximum tax credit amount an employer may receive for hiring qualified
the tax credit amount would further incentivize employers to hire veterans.
The unemployment rate for the veterans in our country is
too high. We need action by our leaders in Washington to help veterans who
served our country get back to work. With modifications to the WOTC program,
such as making the WOTC program permanent, creating an unemployed veterans
target group, and increasing the tax credit for hiring veterans, it will not
only fuel employers to create jobs, it will fuel employers to hire our brave
Prepared Statement of Timothy J. Carson, Manager, Veterans
Initiatives, Office of Diversity, Rockwell Collins, Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA
As a global company pioneering innovative
communication and aviation electronic solutions for both commercial and
government/defense applications, Rockwell Collins is deeply invested in the
well-being of military personnel, and that concern continues after their active
duty is complete. The high rate of veteran unemployment—which is higher than
the national average—demands private and public response.
In that spirit, Rockwell Collins pursues an aggressive
veteran recruitment strategy internally, and works with a number of
organizations externally to extend this approach to other employers across the
The components of this strategy include:
- Support of organizations that
advocate for employee rights and benefits during active service with the Guard
and Reserve such as the Iowa Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (IESGR).
- Support of organizations offering
legal assistance to service men and women before, during and after deployment.
- A full-time recruiter devoted to
identifying and hiring military talent and advertising budget targeted toward
- Support and retention efforts such
as Rockwell Collins’ Veterans Employee Network Group, corporate networking
opportunities and special events, and collaborations with the Veterans
Administration to ensure necessary supports and services are available.
- Working with suppliers that are
veteran-owned and service disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
- Support for the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce and Student Veterans of America’s jobs and internship program and
“Hiring Our Heroes” initiative.
- Collaboration with the National
Organization on Disability’s Wounded Warriors Program.
We hope the ideas embedded in this multi-pronged
strategy contribute to the important national discussion surrounding this issue
and help move businesses and policy makers closer to a strategy that reduces
the veteran unemployment rate and helps veterans put the unique and desirable
skills they developed to work for the well-being of themselves, their families
and their future.
Thank you, Congressman
Braley and Congressman Stutzman. My name is Tim Carson. I serve as a manager of
veterans initiatives with the Office of Diversity at Rockwell Collins, a global
aerospace and defense company headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In my
position, I work closely with Rockwell Collins’ human resources organization
and a variety of external partners to promote outreach to veterans and veterans
I am pleased to have
the opportunity to talk to you today, and appreciate that you are taking time
to listen to the perspectives of business and the community. It is particularly
germane to this state, which has the one of the highest number per capita of
reservists serving on active duty of any state in the union.
And on behalf of
Rockwell Collins, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the
invitation to speak about the importance of helping veterans secure meaningful
The valuable service these men and
women provide is undeniable. And so are the core skills they developed in the
service—leadership, discipline, responsibility and technological savvy—that can
be invaluable to civilian employers.
However, today more than 870,000
young veterans are unemployed—a rate higher than the national unemployment
rate, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. And the
wind-down of engagements abroad will lead to an additional million seeking
civilian employment in the next five years.
When Rockwell Collins talks about
these soldiers, we’re not just speaking about them as a simple subpopulation
amongst all of today’s many unemployed. We’re talking about the people we
They’ve relied upon our
communication technology to stay connected with their leadership in harsh,
remote settings around the globe. They’ve used our navigation systems to ensure
the pinpoint accuracy of weapons systems in areas where civilians and
combatants often live side by side. They’ve identified friend and foe with our
helmet-mounted displays. And they’ve given us feedback, based upon their own
experiences, to make these systems better for the next generation of
We are grateful for their service,
and are dedicated to helping them successfully transition from their military
service and bring their skills and experiences to the civilian workforce.
To that end, Rockwell Collins has
always prioritized the hiring and retention of veterans, and advocates that
businesses across the state and nation do so as well. We also believe it’s
important for us and other companies to partner with local and national
organizations to ensure veterans receive the job counseling, training and
guidance they need to secure and make the most of employment opportunities.
Today, I’m going to talk about some
of the initiatives Rockwell Collins has pursued to build our veteran workforce,
and the partnerships we maintain. These aren’t necessarily the only answer; in
fact, I’m sure there isn’t one single answer to this challenge. But we
recognize you’re seeking a breadth of ideas, and I think we have some good
company has practices and policies in place to ensure we attract and retain
veterans and their spouses as employees.
Nearly 8 percent of
our domestic workforce is made up of veterans, and at any given time a number
of them are serving active duty through the Guard and Reserve. In fact, we are
a strong advocate of the principles of the Iowa Employer Support of the Guard
and Reserve, or IESGR. The organization calls for companies to adhere to, and
go beyond, the provisions of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment
Rights Act, including maintaining benefits, contributing to employee 401(k)s
during military duty, and maintaining vacation accrual and raises. Because
Rockwell Collins follows these guidelines and also promotes these principles to
others in the community, we have earned a five-star rating from the IESGR.
We also recognize that
legal issues can be a burden on Iowa’s service men and women before, during and
after their deployment, and provide ongoing support of the Iowa Returning
Veterans Project to provide them with free legal assistance.
Our human resources
group has a full-time recruiter devoted to identifying and hiring military
talent, and we allocate a specific and growing percentage of our annual
recruitment/advertising budget to military outreach. Through these efforts, we
have consistently grown our share of veterans as part of our total workforce,
including a 4 percent increase in the past fiscal year.
But there’s more to
go. Our leadership has identified the hiring of even more of yesterday’s
warriors as a key business goal for FY’12, and we are launching an
enterprise-wide strategy to increase our outreach, recruitment, hiring and
retention efforts for veterans and veterans with disabilities.
Once hired, we further
the well-being and retention of these individuals through a Veterans Employee
Network Group, corporate networking opportunities and special engagements such
as Transition Think Tanks and PTSD seminars. We collaborate with the Veterans
Administration and other subject matter experts, to ensure that the necessary
supports and services are made available and are accessible to our employees.
We also recognize the
importance of supporting veterans through our business contracting with
suppliers. Year to date, Rockwell Collins has spent $57 million—nearly 5
percent of total corporate spending with suppliers—with Veteran-Owned Small
Businesses, and $13.6 million with Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small
We are fortunate to
have gained some recognition for these efforts. Rockwell Collins has been named
a “Top 100 Military-Friendly Employer” by G.I. Jobs magazine for the
past two years, and we strive every day to continue to deserve that recognition.
Beyond our own hiring practices,
Rockwell Collins seeks to support initiatives that promote hiring of veterans
across the nation.
We are a proud corporate
sponsor of the Jobs and Internship Program, a partnership championed by the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Student Veterans of America (SVA). In fact, we
recently made a significant contribution to the Chamber, specifically earmarked
for their partnership with the SVA and development of the “Hiring Our Heroes”
We attended the SVA’s
Leadership Summit and Career Fair this past summer in Madison, Wis., and will
support the SVA’s National Conference this December as a corporate partner, exhibitor
and employment panel participant.
In an initiative that
is a personal passion for me, we also work to bring disabled veterans into the
workplace, through a relationship with the National Organization on Disability,
know as NOD, and its Wounded Warriors Program. As a primary sponsor of the
organization, one of our senior executives sits on the board for NOD and is
engaged in communicating core messages, events and opportunities for Rockwell
Collins to both support and influence.
And we continue to
seek additional relationships or opportunities to promote veteran hiring
wherever we do business, and to talk about it at every opportunity, like we are
Now, there’s no single
solution to the complex challenge of veteran unemployment, and it’s a pleasure
to hear from the other participants today and get new ideas to consider.
But I hope my and
Rockwell Collins’ contribution to the conversation is helpful as you consider
the public and private strategies to tackle this issue.
These men and women
willingly accepted one of our nation’s most vital and precious
responsibilities, of protecting the country from harm. And in turn, we commit
to fulfill our responsibility to help them put the unique and desirable skills
they developed in that endeavor to work for the well-being of themselves, their
families and their future.
I welcome any
questions you may have today. I also encourage you to contact Rockwell Collins
if you’d like to know more specifics about some of the initiatives I’ve
outlined for you today.
Thank you again for
your time and attention.
Response to House Rule XI clause 2(g)(5): Tim Carson did
not receive any Federal grant or subgrants thereof during the current fiscal
year or either of the two previous fiscal years.
Prepared Statement of Colonel Benjamin J. Corell, Commander, 2nd
Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard,
appear in front of you today to ask for your help in addressing the continued
issue of high unemployment rates for returning Reserve and National Guard
veterans of our nation’s wars. I know that addressing this issue and applying
additional resources to help solve this problem is the right thing to do. Our
nation has been at war now longer than any other armed conflict in the history
of our country. This last decade has been a long, tough fight for our military
forces. I, like others have personally answered the call to duty time and time
again. I have witnessed our hard-earned success in both Iraq and in
Afghanistan. I have seen the sacrifice required by our men and women in uniform
and by our families. Reserve and National Guard employers have quietly sacrificed
at great costs with little thanks and no financial incentives to hire and
retain our veterans.
burden of carrying out the directives of our senior leadership and prosecuting
these conflicts has been borne by less than 1 percent of our nation’s population.
These are the dedicated men and women of our nation’s military. Never before
has our Nation asked for so much from an all-volunteer military. Never before
has our nation and the senior military leadership asked so much of the Reserve
and National Guard. Not since the days of a national draft and conscription for
World War II have we asked so much from our civilian employers. They have gone
without some of their best and brightest who have left to support the war
effort as we call up our Reserve Component service members. I am here today to
ask you to start the process to produce incentives for those employers who hire
and retain our veterans in their workforce. In addition, we need to find a way
to provide incentives for small business owners who are members of our Reserve
Components in order to help these veterans sustain their livelihood after they
return from answering our country’s call.
nation and our people are currently in challenging financial times. Hard
discussions and difficult decisions about spending are occurring not just in
Washington DC, but across this nation. These same hard discussions are taking
place at every business, large and small and at kitchen tables across our
country. Our returning veterans, our Reserve and National Guard members have
repeatedly answered the call to duty serving in these current wars. It is
because of their continued sacrifice that America has remained safe while
allowing the pursuit of these wars with a smaller active military force and
with no draft. These veterans have skills and experience that many employers
desire. The aggregate unemployment rate for our veterans is habitually higher
than the national average rate of unemployment. I need your help to correct
this. All of the job fairs and resume writing workshops in the world will only
get my fellow veterans so far. I believe that we need to review and update the
1994 Cold War-focused Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
of 1994. Concurrently we must develop and implement legislation that will
provide real incentives to the business sector and for those veterans that own
small business or private professional practices. Once that is completed, we
need to market it to employers and ensure that it is enforced.
This effort will
introduce true benefits for hiring and retaining our veterans and enable
veterans who own a business to remain competitive in today’s challenging
environment. I need your assistance to do this, and I ask for your help today.
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
Iowa Committee for Employer Support
13 October 2011
Honorable Marlin Stutzman,
on Economic Opportunity
House Office Building
Heroes: Job Creation for Veterans and Guard/Reserve Members.”
missions of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR) are to educate,
provide consultation to, and assist with reemployment challenges for Iowa employers,
National Guard members, and Reservists. The Employment Initiative Program (EIP)
was added to our mission in the fall of 2010 and is designed to facilitate
employment opportunities for unemployed and underemployed service members and
National Guard’s returning 2nd Brigade Combat Team survey results of 2,356 Soldiers,
721 consider themselves unemployed on their return. Prior to their deployment 630
of them considered themselves unemployed according to the Civilian Employment
Information (CEI) data. Statewide statistics are less comprehensive. Data has
not been effectively gathered from service members outside of the Brigade
military component enters CEI data into separate systems that eventually are
filtered into the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) where employment
information is managed. The different entry system’s of each military component
creates challenges when attempting to draw accurate statistics. What it does
provide is a picture of the % of fulltime vs. part time jobs, top occupations,
types of employers that most often hire service members, and types of
partnerships with Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces (EPO), Iowa
Workforce Development, the National Guard and Reserves, Job Connections
Education Program (JCEP) and a large number of Association groups. These
partnerships are solid and will be vital to assisting our service members in
their employment search. ESGR volunteers are also be a link statewide and can
assist in the efforts by directing service members and employers to the sources
that will benefit them both.
ESGR team will continue to facilitate with our partners Employment Assistance
Training Events statewide. We will also continue to participate and assist in
the promotion of job fair activities through our Guard and Reserve contacts.
The primary missions of Employer Support of the Guard and
Reserves (ESGR) are to educate, provide consultation to, and assist with reemployment
challenges for Iowa employers, National Guard members, and Reservists. The Employment
Initiative Program (EIP) was added to our mission set in the fall of 2010 and is
designed to facilitate employment opportunities for unemployed and
underemployed service members and their spouses. This program is an outgrowth
of our ESGR Outreach Programs, corresponds with the current economic realities
in our state, and is consistent with our President’s New Veterans Employment
This past July, the Iowa National Guard’s 2nd Brigade Combat
Team recently returned home from a one-year deployment to Afghanistan. As they
were out processing from this deployment at Ft. McCoy, Wis., 2,356 of these Soldiers
completed a survey regarding their employment status. 721 Soldiers responded they
considered themselves unemployed on their return to Iowa. According to the
Civilian Employment Information (CEI) data collected from these same Soldiers
prior to the deployment, 630 of them considered themselves unemployed. CEI data
is entered into the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) by the service members
and is only as accurate as the information they entered. We are able to request
data through National ESGR regarding statistics on the “not” employed status of
our service members of all services.
National ESGR has partnered with the Employer Partnership of
the Armed Forces (EPO) under the EIP program. EPO specializes in identifying
civilian employers that are seeking to hire service members and their spouses.
They also assist service members and spouses in all phases of the job search
process. This organization is one resource ESGR refers service members and
employers to in order to match job seekers and job providers for civilian
Iowa ESGR has also partnered with Iowa Workforce Development
(IWD), offering free Employment Assistance Training (EAT) workshops to service
members and their spouses. These workshops are designed to teach job search
skills to job seekers. Topics covered include the Transition Assistance Program
(TAP), resume’ writing, job interview skills training, and online job search
techniques. Civilian human resources representatives volunteer to provide
constructive critiques on prepared resumés and also provide practice interviews
for participants with immediate feedback of their interview.
Since September 2011, ESGR and IWD have offered employment events
around the state in Waterloo, Des Moines, and Iowa City. These locations were
selected based on the survey results acquired in July during Soldier out processing
at Ft. McCoy. Unfortunately the Waterloo event was canceled due to a low
number of RSVPs. Individuals interested in attending the Waterloo event
alternatively scheduled individual sessions with the local Veterans Representative
at IWD. The Des Moines event had 18 registrations with 9 actual attendees. Iowa
City had 10 registrations, with 7 individuals participating in the training. When
compared to the survey results and the fact that more than 400 2nd Brigade
Combat Team Soldiers expressed interest in receiving employment assistance
while out processing at Fort McCoy, the rate of participation is much lower
than expected. From our perspective potential reasons for the low participation
could be that the employment events were scheduled too soon after their return
home, Soldiers are not in a duty status and simply want a break from the
military, knowledge and use of unemployment benefits, or they simply are not
ready to think about finding a job.
Iowa ESGR is working with Guard and Reserve units to promote
not only the training events, but job fair opportunities throughout the state. ESGR
volunteers have briefed the job search opportunities and training events during
the Yellow Ribbon post-mobilization events (reintegration briefings and
activities) and also during unit annual briefings. Information regarding
upcoming employment events is consistently emailed to all interested
individuals, including command and staff of the Guard and Reserves, Guard and
Reserve members returning from deployments, and ESGR military outreach
The Iowa National Guard has worked closely with the National
Guard Bureau to hire an individual to work one-on-one with unemployed Guard
members as they search for employment. This individual will assist service
members on resumé writing and job search resources. They will also build
relationships with employers statewide to encourage the hiring of our qualified
service members. ESGR will also work closely with them, sharing resources,
contacts, and strategies to build a productive employer network.
ESGR has a long and successful history of helping Guard and
Reserve service members and their employers understand their rights and
requirements under the Uniform Service members Employment and Re-Employment
Rights Act (USERRA). Now, with the Employment Initiative Program and associated
partnerships, we have the opportunity to assist service members and employers
connect more effectively and more often.
Prepared Statement of Anthony Smithhart, Iowa State Director,
Veterans' Employment and Training Service, U.S. Department of Labor
Chairman Stutzman, Ranking Member Braley,
and members of the Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to testify
before the Committee about the work we are doing at the Department of Labor
(DOL or Department) to address the important issue of decreasing the
unemployment rate for Veterans, National Guard, and Reservists. We also
appreciate the opportunity to discuss the work we are doing here in Iowa. With
over 240,000 veterans living in the state, it is critical that we provide them
with the services and support they need to find and obtain good jobs.
My name is Tony Smithhart, and as the Iowa
State Director for the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training
Service (VETS), I am dedicated to helping our Veterans and returning Service
Members achieve that goal.
VETS proudly serves Veterans and transitioning Service Members by
providing resources and expertise to assist and prepare them to obtain
meaningful careers, maximize their employment opportunities and protect their
employment rights. We do this through a variety of nationwide programs that
are an integral part of Secretary Solis’s vision of “Good Jobs for Everyone.”
I would like to begin by briefly discussing some of
those programs along with other initiatives that assist America’s Veterans in
getting to or back to work and then focus specifically on information for Iowa
you requested in your invitation.
Jobs for Veterans State Grants Program
The first program that I would like to highlight for
you is the Jobs for Veterans State Grants (JVSG) Program. Under this grant
program, the Department offers employment and training services to eligible
Veterans by allocating funds to State Workforce Agencies in direct proportion
to the number of Veterans seeking employment within their state.
for Veterans State Grants (JVSG) program funds two occupations, the Disabled
Veterans Outreach Program specialist (DVOP) and the Local Veterans Employment
Representatives (LVER). DVOP specialists provide outreach services, and
intensive employment assistance to meet the employment needs of eligible
Veterans. LVER staff conducts outreach to employers and engages in advocacy
efforts with hiring executives to increase employment opportunities for
Veterans, encourages the hiring of disabled Veterans, and generally assists
Veterans to gain and retain employment.
the JVSG provided services to nearly 589,000 Veterans, and 201,000 Veterans
To meet the needs of homeless Veterans and help
reintegrate them into the workforce VETS administers the Homeless Veterans’
Reintegration Program (HVRP). Through HRVP, the Department provides
competitive grants to state and local workforce investment boards, state
agencies, local public agencies, and private non-profit organizations,
including faith-based organizations and neighborhood partnerships. HVRP
grantees provide an array of services utilizing a holistic case management
approach that directly assists homeless Veterans and provides training services
to help them to successfully transition into the labor force.
In Program Year (PY) 2009, over 14,000 homeless
Veterans participated in this program through 96 grants, and 8,470 were placed
into employment. Data for PY 2010 is not yet available, as figures for the 4th quarter
are still being verified. Here in Iowa, the HVRP has touched many lives and
helped hundreds of homeless Veterans because of grants to programs such as the
Goodwill Industries of the Heartland and Shelter House Community Shelter &
Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program
Yet another way the Department is working to help
Veterans get back to work is through the Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program
(VWIP). Through VWIP, the Department awards competitive grants geared toward
focused training, re-training and employment opportunities for recently
separated Veterans, Veterans with service-connected disabilities, Veterans with
significant barriers to employment and Veterans who served on active duty
during expeditions or campaigns for which specific badges were awarded. These
grants are awarded to meet the needs of employers for qualified workers in high
demand industries, particularly those occupations requiring a license or
certification. These grants also promote the integration of public, private,
and philanthropic organizations with the workforce system to create synergy and
encourage innovative strategies to serve our Veterans better.
In FY 2009,
VWIP was refocused to provide training and employment services in green energy
occupations as envisioned in the Green Jobs Act of 2007. There are currently
22 grants serving 4,600 Veterans.
Transition Assistance Program
Our primary program for assisting
individuals with their transition from the military to the civilian workforce
is the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). TAP is an interagency program
delivered via a partnership involving the Department of Defense, DOL VETS, the
Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Homeland Security. VETS
provides an employment workshop that is a comprehensive two and a half day
program during which participants are provided relevant skills and information,
such as job search techniques, career decision-making processes, and current
labor market conditions.
Currently, VETS uses a mix of contractors, VETS
Federal staff, DVOPs, and LVERs as TAP facilitators. Starting in late 2012,
VETS will transition to all skilled contract facilitators.
As you know, VETS is currently in the process of
redesigning and transforming the TAP employment workshop. We are creating
experiential, effective, and enduring solutions for a successful transition
from military to civilian life and employment. The new TAP will be based on
established best practices in career transition.
nearly 130,000 transitioning Service Members and spouses attended a TAP
employment workshop given at one of 272 locations world-wide.
VETS is also implementing a new approach to employer
outreach that involves pilot programs and partnerships with the private sector,
including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Society for Human Resource
Management (SHRM). These partnerships are giving us much broader access to
employers so that we can communicate the value of hiring a Veteran and how to
access this extraordinary source of talent. It also allows us to educate
employers about the unique skills Veterans bring with them based on their
military experience. Connecting the talent pool with the many companies
looking to hire Veterans allows for a more efficient hiring process for many
Veterans and employers.
The Chamber is working to hold 100 hiring fairs
exclusively for Veterans, transitioning Service Members and their spouses. In
the partnership, the U.S. Chamber and its affiliates focus primarily on
securing the participation of employers while the VETS team focuses on
obtaining participation by Veterans, transitioning Service Members and their
In fact, VETS is participating in our State-wide 2011
“Hiring Our Heroes” Job Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on November 8th, 2011.
The event will be held at the Hy-Vee Hall (Hall “C”), 730 Third Street, Des
Moines, Iowa, 50309 from 10:00AM-4:00PM and is being put on by the Greater Des
Moines Partnership, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce along with the Iowa Works,
the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), Des Moines Area Community
College, and the Military Services.
VETS is working with SHRM to identify
opportunities for VETS state managers to meet with local SHRM chapters to
connect Veterans seeking employment with companies who are hiring. For VETS
this is an effective and efficient way to connect employers and Veterans. We are
also working with SHRM in the development of an HR Toolkit that will provide
employers with the methods and procedures to establish a Veteran hiring program
and to hire Veterans.
Iowa Specific Information
In your letter of invitation, you requested certain
information about Veterans in Iowa. While some specific data is unavailable,
we have nevertheless been certain to provide the most current information
available. As you know, Iowa operates a Public Labor Exchange primarily funded
by the U.S. Department of Labor to assist all job seekers with their employment
needs. While it is available to all populations, Veterans are given priority
of service. In Iowa, the Public Labor Exchange is known as the Iowa Workforce
Development (IWD). The services and assistance offered at IWD range from
employment preparation and comprehensive employment placement services, to
intensive services through a case management approach for Veterans with special
Level of Education of
Veterans Seeking Employment Assistance
Over the past year, 19,687 Veterans
have received services through IWD. Of the total population of Veterans served
through the public labor exchange, 1074 or 5.5 percent reported less than a high
school diploma while 9,000 or 45.7 percent have a high school degree or a GED. The
total number of Veterans reporting achievement of a post-high school degree or
certification is 6144, or 31.2 percent. (See table below.)
|Total Number of Vets, Eligibles and Transitioning Servicemembers||19,687|
|Total Number of Vets, Eligibles and Transitioning Servicemembers who
were not HS Graduates
|Total Number of Vets Eligibles and Transitioning Servicemembers who
had a HS degree or GED
|Total Number of Vets, Eligi8bles and Transitioning Servicemembers
who had a Post-Secondary degree or are Certified
Source: U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and
Training Administration Form ETA 9002 A: “Services to Participants” July 1,
2010 through June 30, 2011. U. S. Department of Labor, and Employment and
Training Administration Form ETA 9002 D Services to Participants, April 1, 2010
through March 31, 2011.
Education level is not a required field when
registering with the One-Stop Career Center system; therefore, the breakdown by
education level does equal the total number of Veterans served.
Average Placement Salary by
Level of Education for Veterans.
In Iowa, the six month Average
Earnings for veterans are; $15, 346 or $30,692 per annum. The principle source
of information for this data element is the U. S. Department of Labor’s,
Employment and Training Administration from the ETA 9002, Services to
Participants for Program Year Period July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011. While
specific placement salary data by education level are not available, the
ETA 9002, Performance Outcomes for Veterans, Eligible Persons and Transitioning
Service Members does provide Average Earnings data.
Length of Unemployment for
Veterans by Education Level
Current Population Survey provides national data about the employment status of
the civilian non-institutional population by educational attainment, age, sex,
race, and Hispanic or Latino and Non-Hispanic ethnicity. The same source
provides data for unemployed persons by duration of unemployment, educational
attainment, sex, and age as an annual average for the general population.
However, data for length of unemployment by education level for Veterans as a
separate population is not available.
Rate of Unemployment for Veterans by Education Level
In terms of unemployment rates for the general
population, the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) reports a 6.1
for Iowa in 2010. Comparatively, the Current Population Survey (CPS),
collected by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that
the unemployment rate for Veterans was 6.4 percent in Iowa in 2010. Unemployment rate
data by education level by state is not available. (See table below.)
|Calendar Year 2010 (LAUS) General Population||6.1%|
|Calendar Year 2010 (CPS)-Veterans||6.4%|
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Number of Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights
Act (USERRA) Complaints Filed
VETS is honored to serve our nation’s Veterans. One of
the agency’s top priorities is to protect the employment rights of service
members when called to serve on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. The goal
of the USERRA is to ensure that no member or prospective member of the U.S.
Armed forces endures any disadvantage or discrimination in employment because
of their affiliation with the military, and to secure the reemployment rights
of members of the military after active duty service.
closely with DOD’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Reserve Affairs’
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to ensure that service members
are informed on their USERRA rights before and after they are mobilized. We
conduct continuous USERRA outreach to educate and inform service members and
employers of their rights and responsibilities under the law.
The use of
the National Guard and Reserves has increased dramatically in recent years,
with more called to active duty than any other time since the Korean War. This
has increased the complexity of issues resulting from the challenges faced by
service members and their families due to lengthier and multiple deployments.
This is true for all service members but because many National Guard and
Reserve Units, in particular, contend with civilian employment issues, the
claims activity post 9-11 has increased dramatically nationwide. Employers face
equal hardships in the reintegration of service members into the labor force as
they deal with lengthy and multiple absences.
Your invitation asked for the number of
USERRA complaints filed in Iowa. Below, is the breakdown of complaints filed
within the last five years. Despite the increase nationally, the number of
complaints have decreased in Iowa over this time period.
|USERRA Complaints Filed:|
|Federal Fiscal Year 2007||38|
|Federal Fiscal Year 2008||39|
|Federal Fiscal Year 2009||34|
|Federal Fiscal Year 2010||24|
|Federal Fiscal Year 2011||19|
USDOL/VETS Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
Information Management System
Thank you again for allowing me to
testify today and for your tireless support and commitment to our Nations
Veterans. DOL and VETS look forward to continuing to work with you and your
staff on Veterans’ employment initiatives. I look forward to responding to
Strengthening Veteran Employment Opportunities in Iowa
Throughout the country countless men and women have dedicated their lives and
made extreme sacrifices for the safety of everyone. Hundreds of thousands of
Americans have deployed to serve our great country, yet when they come home a
fundamental step in returning to a civilian life is difficult to obtain:
employment. Iowa is one of the few states without an active military
installation; however our National Guard and Reservists have been deployed to
Iraq, Afghanistan and other world locations in record numbers, often for
Iowa receives a small grant for the veterans program within our 16 one‐stop
integrated centers. As such, we have developed creative alternatives to ensure
our entire workforce staff members are trained in providing priority of service
activities for Iowa’s veterans. This allows our targeted veteran staff members
to focus on active case management for veterans in need. This level of case
management has developed new meaning with the record number of returning service
members over the last few years. Recently, Iowa welcomed home nearly 3,000
service members from Afghanistan follow a long deployment. While this should be
a time for celebration for our returning heroes, the Adjutant General of the
Iowa National Guard, Major General Tim Orr, recently noted that nearly 25
percent of these individuals would be seeking full‐time employment.
Unfortunately, our service men and women have faced hiring difficulties and
problems with USERRA compliance upon their recent return. Although federal
regulations require veterans be returned to their former positions, frequently
this is not the case. Further promotion of USERRA requirements is needed to
ensure our veterans are treated appropriately.
Iowa is working to develop a new service delivery model that benefits all job
seekers, including veterans. The integration service delivery model works to
identify the needs and barriers of job seekers early on to ensure the client
receives all of the benefits of programs within the workforce system. This
allows staff members to quickly identify veterans to ensure their immediate
connection to a veteran specialist. A significant barrier for individuals
transitioning to civilian employment is translating the military skill set to
civilian skills. It’s difficult for the veteran who is so entrenched in military
language to develop the talking points to sell his/her skill sets as valuable
within the civilian workforce. Iowa’s veteran specialists work diligently on a
daily basis to assist with this process and to educate employers on the benefits
of hiring veterans.
Although Iowa is a smaller state, time and time again we’ve been recognized
for our outstanding efforts in providing services to veterans. Our staff
developed a veteran’s services guide that details programs and services for
veterans in a format that is easy to navigate and understand. Additionally, the
department instituted a peer‐to‐peer case review system on a quarterly basis to
provide ongoing training and develop best practices for all program specialists
to use throughout the state. Both of these initiatives have been replicated by
states throughout the country.
On July 27th, Iowa Workforce Development announced a first in the nation
partnership with the Iowa National Guard. The state's workforce access point
technology is being introduced onsite at the 43 National Guard Armories across
the state. This is the same virtual service deployed across Iowa in hundreds of
new sites. Veterans will have immediate access to job search technology, résumé
development software, labor market information, veteran specific resources,
unemployment information and access to one‐stop workforce specialists via live
chat or a toll free number from 8:00AM to 8:00PM Monday through Friday and
10:00AM to 2:00PM on Saturdays all from an environment where the veterans
currently seek a variety of services and contacts.
Although Iowa is a small state with a limited grant, we’ve taken innovative
approaches to maximize the funding for the entire state. Iowa focuses its
staffing dollars towards the DVOP case management side and trains everyone on
our business outreach teams to educate employers and promote the hiring of
veterans. Our entire workforce team works to educate employers on the benefits
of hiring veterans. This provides our state with a larger portion of resources
to direct at intensive case management activities. This process has been
recognized by other states such as Oregon, Nevada, Connecticut and others as a
best practice for ensuring veterans receive dedicated services. Every year,
states are allowed to use one percent of their veteran services grant as
incentive awards to the regional one‐stop centers. Iowa Workforce Development
uses this opportunity to reward our specialists who go above and beyond in
service delivery and develop creative means for reaching veterans in the
community. The inventive awards are used in a variety of ways including
providing bedding for local veteran homeless shelters, purchasing gas cards to
ensure the veteran has the means to attend an interview, sponsoring honor
flights and more. In 2010, a DVOP specialist received the distinguished national
Mark Sanders Award for outstanding service to disabled veterans in Iowa.
While Iowa and other states have taken creative steps to assist veterans,
more needs to be done to ensure that veterans find successful, sustaining
employment opportunities that meet their unique needs and allow each individual
to utilize the skills developed during their selfless service to the country.
MATERIAL SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
Stutzman, Ranking Member Braley, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for
your focus on the critical issue of veteran employment.
As a 27
year veteran of the Navy and the current President of Military.com, I have
experienced the issue of veteran employment from both sides. As such, I would
like to share with you what our organization is doing to help veterans find career
opportunities as well as our belief that aligning government and the private
sector will best connect our servicemembers with jobs.
country experienced what can be called the “Golden Age of Higher Education.”
Armed with their GI Bill Benefits, 4.4 million servicemembers went to college to
build the foundation for a better life.
veterans and servicemembers in transition are still pursuing their educational
dreams with the enhanced GI Bill, a weakened economy makes it tougher to find
excellent job opportunities. There is a disconnect with the private sector on
the transportability of military skills and our veterans are finding it more difficult
than ever to translate their total military experience into a civilian career.
are disturbing. The unemployment rate for all veterans remains stubbornly at
9%, the unemployment rate for post 9/11 veterans is roughly 11 percent--higher than
the national average. Young male veterans between the ages of 18 to 24 had an
unemployment rate of 21.9 percent% in 2010 and female veterans face unemployment at a
rate of 13.5 percent, versus 8.4 percent for non-veteran women.
Americans enter the military because of the opportunity to acquire marketable
skills along with the ability for advanced degrees. Yet when the time comes to
transition today, they are not finding as much opportunity in today’s economy. Worse
yet, the connection between unemployment and homelessness is irrefutable.
Right now the VA estimates there are over 100,000 veterans who have no home.
is, as we continue to reduce our troop end strength, more veterans will be
looking for civilian employment while job growth has not accelerated as much as
will be stiff and we already know that unemployment is higher for veterans than
culture, language and job skills are not easily translated to the civilian
world. Potential employers have very little understanding of the diverse jobs
and skill sets one can learn in the military. Additionally, our veterans are
coming out of the service with little experience in writing a civilian resume
and no exposure to private sector business culture or language.
There is no
doubt that given the service these veterans have provided us during wartime, we
owe them the best support possible in their post-service life.
So how do
we do that?
that allow those who have served in uniform and who desire to continue their
government service in a civilian capacity should be embraced. There is great
value in the government competing for these outstanding men and women.
majority of transitioning servicemembers do look to the private sector for
employment so focus should be put on public, private efforts to land veterans
assist, military personnel need more exposure to the private sector before they
leave the service. That exposure needs to happen in the form of enhanced Transition
Assistance Programs (TAP), where the focus needs to be on the veteran getting
ahead rather than just getting out. The employment curriculum of TAP needs to
be taught by human resource professionals from the private sector with some
military knowledge so instructors can provide the best chance for the military
member to find the best opportunity on the outside. It must include
skill-specific resume writing services, information on private sector business
culture and hands-on training on how to use all available private sector resources
so veterans can get in front of the employers and compete in the human resource
networks that exist in the private sector. And it must teach networking and
where to find those who can help and give our veterans insight into the
employment preparation should be focused on how to enter the civilian job
market rather than trying to create stand-alone programs run by the government.
The vast majority of companies in the private sector have very good and
generally very efficient ways to find good talent. The key must be to help the
veterans get into that system, be identified as veterans….and compete.
government wants a program they can sink their teeth into, it should fund
training for those in the field of human resources on how to understand
military skill sets and how those skills apply to the civilian world. This
training needs to include explanations for primary, secondary and tertiary
duties an individual may have had in the service. The Department of Labor has a
basic program around this but it could be greatly enhanced.
better understanding of how military certifications translate to civilian
professional certifications should be addressed with all state governments.
Military.com director of community outreach visited a number of military
installations overseas in February of this year. During his visit to Marine
Corps Base Camp Butler in Okinawa Japan, he met a Navy Hospital Corpsman Second
Class who had recently returned from his second tour in Afghanistan. The Navy
Corpsman earned a Bronze Star with a Combat “V” for his heroic efforts in
performing a tracheotomy on a wounded Marine during a firefight engagement with
insurgents. This Navy Corpsman has the exceptional skills and abilities to
perform such a task under extreme hazardous conditions and do it effectively, yet
does not warrant becoming a qualified emergency medical technician in the civilian
community unless he goes through a full training and certification program where
he probably is more qualified than the instructor.
astounds me that a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or Coastguardsman can
perform surgery on the battlefield but not be certified an EMT in the civilian
world without starting from scratch. An all-out effort between VA, Labor and
DOD with the 50 states could probably develop a program of what knowledge,
skills and abilities would be accepted as certifications within all states with
a very short testing period.
leveraging the expertise of private companies like Monster.com and Military.com
is crucial to sustaining any successful, long-term veteran employment efforts.
knows the private sector; with our parent company, Monster.com we can and do
specialize in harnessing the best technology along with the most effective
methods to connect our servicemembers with employers. And while most employers
don’t tell us how many vets they hire, we do know they continually search
resumes with veteran status and continually advertise their positions on
Monster and Military.com
government assists servicemembers with getting out through the Transition
Assistance Program, we at Monster.com and Military.com help them get ahead by
tapping into our large data base of jobs and providing the guidance needed to
enter the civilian job world.
was founded in 1999 by a young Navy reservist to revolutionize the way our 30
million Americans with military affinity stay connected and informed.
Military.com is the largest military and veteran membership organization with
more than 10 million members and we're one of the largest news destination sites
on the Internet. Our free membership connects servicemembers, military families
and veterans to each other and to all the benefits of service at all stages in
their lives — government benefits, resources and career services, education
information and scholarships, discounts, news and discussion forums to share
the great stories and challenges inherent in military life, and more.
Military.com joined forces with Monster Worldwide to accelerate our growth and
change the playing field for career and educational opportunities for active
duty personnel, as well as Guard and reservists, veterans and military spouses.
We work hard every day to serve those who serve our country and we’re
committed to helping our members find work and enter into career paths that
will compliment and build on the skills they acquired in the military.
We do this
both online and offline.
offer a comprehensive offering of services, resources and information to
support every stage of a military career, from recruitment to boot camp to
promotions, retirement, education and second careers.
created a veteran career center using technology to successfully deliver a
personalized experience with a variety of interactive tools and
resources. We offer the largest veteran job board in the world featuring
military-friendly employers as well as hundreds of thousands of job postings
available through our Monster.com database.
also offer personalized email alerts for new postings that match a veteran's
resume and job interests, as well as resume writing tools, education and
training information, mentoring through our Veteran Career Network, and
electronic newsletters with news and employer information.
help veterans begin their new career search, we developed our Military Skills
Translator. We use the Department of Labor's online resource known as
"O-Net," or Occupational Data Network as a baseline to translate
current and older military occupational specialty codes into civilian
Military.com is taking it one step further. We present the veteran with
equivalent jobs currently posted on the Monster job board, including those
posted by thousands of military employers specifically looking for
veterans. The veteran can immediately apply to one of these jobs from our
site or review the job postings and learn what specific experiences, skills,
education, and training employers are seeking for this type of position.
This information can help the job seeker better "civilianize" their
military experience on their resume and best communicate the skill, knowledge,
and abilities they acquired while in service. Over the last year, we had over 250,000 separate
individuals use our translator an average of 4-5 times per person.
the Military Skills Translator, not only are veterans empowered to apply to
currently available jobs, they can also see members of our Military.com's Veteran
Career Network who have indicated they held that same Military Occupational
of our fastest growing services that is still in beta form is this mentor
network that connects veterans seeking new careers with employed veterans as
well as military supporters. Military.com members who volunteer for this
feature create a profile containing details about their military experience,
professional interests, and their current job position and employer.
using this feature can find a career network mentor by company, government
agency, career field, industry or geographic location. Once the veteran
job seeker has identified someone with whom they would like to network, he or
she can contact a mentor directly through our secure Military.com email tool.
the implementation of our Veteran Career Network in 2007, over one million
Military.com members have signed on to network with other veterans and help
transitioning servicemembers jumpstart their civilian careers.
also access financial information and guidance. Our Finance Channel drew over
450,000 views in March 2011 because of the comprehensive information VA home
loans and our relocation guide which helps military families through their
example, in March of 2011 alone we had 3 million views on our Benefits and
Education Channel which includes information on Tricare, GI Bill, VA health
care, survivor benefits and information on PTSD resources and support.
our members in touch with the latest information about their benefits and
interests with our email newsletters, of which 35 million are sent each month
to our members who subscribe to them. Our most popular newsletters are the
Veterans Insider with over 8 million subscribers, our Careers newsletters with over
800,000 subscribers and our Active Duty Insider with over 4 million
subscribers. These newsletters offer tailored content and feature relevant
information and resource links for our audience.
actively engage with the communities we serve through in person events.
we host, in conjunction with our non-profit partner, the Non-Commissioned
Officers Association, over 40 career expos a year.
over 15,000 members attended our 33 career fair events across the country. Since
January of this year, we have held 11 career fair events, attended by more than
3500 veterans and transitioning servicemembers. We have also recently
begun hosting Veteran Power Seeker Workshops in advance of our career fairs to
help attendees write resumes, acquire interviewing and networking skills and
research employers so they are prepared to most successfully engage with
employers at the event.
career fairs are important because it gives us one to one interaction with both
employers and transitioning servicemembers. Here we are able to walk job
seekers through the interview process, review resumes and counsel them about
the many opportunities outside of the government that they may not have known
they were qualified for. Conversely we get the chance to meet with employers
and “de-code” the military skills or vernacular they are seeing on resumes and
point out what skills sets will best fit their needs.
question the ability of the private sector to embrace and assist our veterans
in their job search, look no further than Military.com and the solid
relationships we have created between our servicemembers, veterans and
conclusion, we no longer have finite wars with treaties being signed on the
deck of a battleship. Today’s changing global environment means that any time
our military can be called to action, tapped for humanitarian assistance or
used to quell instability around the globe.
As such, we
have a much longer-term obligation to understand veterans and the employment
they seek. Rather than the “home from war” mentality of previous generations,
we now have to see veteran’s employment as a rolling responsibility that will
remain a permanent fixture on our national landscape.
Just as the
Post WWII generation enjoyed the “Golden Age of Education” we can and should
see this as our opportunity to create the “Golden Age of Employment” for those
who have served our nation so proudly. We are fortunate enough here in our
country to have an all-volunteer force, one that emerges from, and ultimately
goes back into the civilian population.
to reason that a crucial component in ensuring jobs for those veterans who
return to civilian life is leveraging the expertise and involvement of the private
Chairwoman and members of the Subcommittee, this concludes my statement. I
would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
October 21, 2011
The Honorable Marlin Stutzman,
House Veterans’ Affairs
Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
The Honorable Bruce Braley,
House Veterans’ Affairs
Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
Dear Congressman Stutsman and
University of Northern Iowa commends the Committee for its commitment to
economic opportunity for returning veterans. Education is directly related to
an individual’s economic opportunity. On behalf of the University, I
would like to share with you our commitment to veterans, as
well as provide for your consideration some recommendations to further assist
University of Northern Iowa established the Veterans Student Services Committee
in fall 2009. The 21 members include students, faculty and staff, officers
with the ROTC program, and members of the Cedar Valley community. Preference
for appointments are given to individuals who are veterans, who have particular
research or content knowledge about veterans’ matters, or who have professional
responsibilities related to military service.
the two years since its creation, the committee has:
survey to determine the needs and desires of student veterans
UNI Student Veterans Association
participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program
campus-wide recognition activities for Veterans Day
In July 2011, I was
appointed Coordinator, Veterans Student Services (VSSC). Among my duties is
serving as Chair of the Veteran Student Services Committee. The following
goals have been set for the 2011-12 academic year:
faculty and staff awareness survey
university veterans-specific website
faculty/staff-to-student veteran mentoring program
VETS (UNI Veterans Educating Tomorrow’s Students)
into the existing orientation programming to meet the specific needs of
The VSSC is comprised
of four subcommittees: (1) Communications and Outreach; (2) Education and
Assessment; (3) Transitions and Retention; and (4) UNI Student Veterans
Association. Each subcommittee has a number of goals and initiatives that they
work to accomplish. Today’s hearing sheds light on some additional goals that
could be pursued: A job fair and on-campus interviews specific to student
veterans; resume-critiquing and mock interviews to aid student veterans in
translating their military skills, training, and experience in civilian terms;
and encouragement of student-veterans to partake in the many internship
opportunities that are available.
UNI is also proud to
announce that it was included in the 2012 Military Friendly Schools List
published by G.I. Jobs magazine. The list recognizes the top 15 percent of
colleges, universities, and trade schools that are supporting the educational
pursuits of veterans. Criteria for inclusion in the Military Friendly Schools
List include a strong commitment to recruiting, retaining, and providing
financial, academic, and social services to student veterans.
We are committed at all levels to
supporting the transition from "boots to books," and as a result,
support measures that contribute to a more seamless transition from
military to civilian life. Colleges and universities should be urged to
provide an office or staff person to serve as coordinator for veterans services
and to expand the availability of training on veterans' needs and issues for
campus officials, faculty and staff.
We would be pleased to meet with
you and members of the committee to discuss further these comments, as well as
to respond to questions and provide additional information.
Assistant Registrar and Coordinator, Veterans Student Services
Mr. STUTZMAN. How many veteran job placements did Iowa State
Workforce complete in the last year, roughly?
Mr. SMITHHART. For the period ending on December 31, 2011, the
number of Veterans/eligible persons that were reported as entered employment in
Iowa was 6,209.