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Hearing Transcript on Putting America's Veterans Back to Work

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PUTTING AMERICA'S VETERANS BACK TO WORK

 



 HEARING

BEFORE  THE

COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION


JUNE 1, 2011


SERIAL No. 112-14


Printed for the use of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

 

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COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS


JEFF MILLER, Florida, Chairman

 

CLIFF STEARNS, Florida

DOUG LAMBORN, Colorado

GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida

DAVID P. ROE, Tennessee

MARLIN A. STUTZMAN, Indiana

BILL FLORES, Texas

BILL JOHNSON, Ohio

JEFF DENHAM, California

JON RUNYAN, New Jersey

DAN BENISHEK, Michigan

ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York

TIM HUELSKAMP, Kansas

Vacancy

Vacancy

BOB FILNER, California, Ranking

CORRINE BROWN, Florida

SILVESTRE REYES, Texas

MICHAEL H. MICHAUD, Maine

LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California

BRUCE L. BRALEY, Iowa

JERRY MCNERNEY, California

JOE DONNELLY, Indiana

TIMOTHY J. WALZ, Minnesota

JOHN BARROW, Georgia

RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri

 

 

 

Helen W. Tolar, Staff Director and Chief Counsel


Pursuant to clause 2(e)(4) of Rule XI of the Rules of the House, public
hearing records of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs are also published
in electronic form. The printed hearing record remains the official
version.
Because electronic submissions are used to prepare
both printed and electronic versions of the hearing record, the process
of converting between various electronic formats may introduce
unintentional errors or omissions. Such occurrences are inherent in the current publication process
and should diminish as the process is further refined.

 

       

C O N T E N T S

June 1, 2011


Putting America's Veterans Back to Work

OPENING STATEMENTS

Chairman Jeff Miller

    Prepared statement of Chairman Miller

Hon. Bob Filner, Ranking Democratic Member

    Prepared statement of Congressman
Filner


Hon. Gus M. Bilirakis, prepared statement of

Hon. John Barrow, prepared statement of

Hon. Russ Carnahan, prepared statement of


WITNESSES

U.S. Department of Veterans, Ruth A. Fanning, Director, Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment Service, Veterans Benefits Administration

    Prepared statement of Ms. Fanning

U.S. Department of Labor, Hon. Raymond M. Jefferson, Assistant
Secretary, Veterans' Employment and Training Service

    Prepared statement of Mr. Jefferson


American Veterans (AMVETS), George Ondick,
Executive Director, Department of Ohio

    Prepared statement of Mr. Ondick

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Heather L. Ansley,
Esq., MSW, Co-Chair, Veterans Task Force

    Prepared statement of Ms. Ansley

DirectEmployers Association, Jolene Jefferies, Vice President,
Strategic Initiatives

    Prepared statement of Ms. Jefferies

Florida Army National Guard,
Major General James D. Tyre, ARNG, Assistant Adjutant General

    Prepared statement of General Tyre

National Association of State Workforce Agencies, Richard A. Hobbie,
Executive Director

    Prepared statement of Mr. Hobbie

Reserve Officers Association of the United States, Captain Marshall Hanson, USNR
(Ret.), Director, Legislative and Military Policy, and also on behalf of Reserve
Enlisted Association

    Prepared statement of Captain Hanson

Society for Human Resource Management, Henry Jackson, Interim
President and Chief Executive Officer

    Prepared statement of Mr. Jackson

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Kevin M. Schmiegel, Vice President,
Veterans Employment Programs

    Prepared statement of Mr. Schmiegel


MATERIAL SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD

Post-Hearing Questions and Responses for the Record:

Hon. Bob Filner, Ranking Democratic Member,
Committee on Veterans' Affairs to Richard A. Hobbie, Executive Director, National
Association of State Workforce Agencies, letter dated June 22, 2011, and response
letter, dated August 3, 2011

Hon. Bob Filner, Ranking Democratic
Member, Committee on Veterans' Affairs to Jolene Jefferies, Vice President,
Strategic Initiatives, DirectEmployers Association, letter dated June 22, 2011,
and response, memorandum dated June 29, 2011

Hon. Bob Filner, Ranking Democratic Member,
Committee on Veterans' Affairs to Kevin M. Schmiegel, Vice President, Veterans
Employment Program, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, letter dated June 22, 2011, and
Mr. Schmiegel's responses

Hon. Bob Filner, Ranking Democratic Member,
Committee on Veterans' Affairs to George Ondick, Executive Director, Department
of Ohio, AMVETS, letter dated June 22, 2011, and Mr. Ondick's responses

Hon. Bob Filner, Ranking Democratic Member,
Committee on Veterans' Affairs to Captain Marshall Hanson, USNR (Ret.), Director,
Legislative and Military Policy, Reserve Officers Association, letter dated
June 22, 2011, and Captain Hanson's responses

Hon. Bob Filner, Ranking Democratic Member,
Committee on Veterans' Affairs to Hon. Raymond M. Jefferson, Assistant Secretary,
Veterans' Employment and Training Service, U.S. Department of Labor, letter
dated June 22, 2011, and DOL's responses


PUTTING AMERICA'S VETERANS BACK TO WORK


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

U. S. House of Representatives,

Committee on Veterans' Affairs,

Washington, DC.

The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:02 a.m., in Room 334, Cannon House
Office Building, Hon. Jeff Miller [Chairman of the Committee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Miller, Stutzman, Benishek, Huelskamp, Filner, Michaud,
Braley, McNerney, Donnelly, and Barrow.

OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN MILLER

The CHAIRMAN. Good morning, everybody. Welcome to our Committee meeting this
morning: Putting America's Veterans Back to Work. I think we all can agree that
this is one of the most important hearings that we will have in this Congress. That
is why we have decided to proceed with this hearing even though many of the Members
on the majority side are at a meeting at the invitation of the President at the
White House.

Just last week, I and other Committee Members met with dozens of veteran organizations
who were nearly unanimous in making jobs for veterans their number one priority.
I couldn't agree more.

Lengthy unemployment can cause an unbelievable amount of strain. Bills don't
get paid, savings can be exhausted, and family needs have to be put on hold. The
financial strain of not having meaningful employment has a cascading effect for
many: family problems, declining health, homelessness. We have just got to get the
economy going again to put Americans back to work, especially those who have protected
our freedom to work in the first place.

Growing the economy starts with the fundamentals of keeping taxes on small businesses
low, which necessarily means holding Federal spending down, reducing burdensome
and unnecessary regulations, and ensuring that we have a trained, skilled workforce
ready for the 21st Century jobs.

It is this third area, ensuring a trained, skilled workforce, that the Veterans'
Affairs Committee is primed to lead. There are a number of programs run by the
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and
the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that have the potential to help, but our task is to see
if those programs, as designed, are doing the job as intended. Our responsibility
is to modernize them to respond to the specific needs that exist for unemployed
or under-employed veterans in our economy. So let me take a moment to highlight
a few areas where I think we need improvement.

First, the unemployment rate among all veterans of the Global War on Terror has
been reported to be as high as 13.1 percent. This high rate exists despite the fact
that Transition Assistance Programs (TAPs) for separating servicemembers looking for work
are available, as are federally funded veterans employment specialists within every
State. We need to look at these programs anew to see how they can be improved.

Second, training and the education benefits through the new Post-9/11 GI Bill
and other programs are valuable tools, I think we will all agree, for our veterans.
However, as currently designed, they do little good for middle-aged veterans far
removed from military service who may need new skills to break out of unemployment.

To highlight the point I am making, on the 2nd of May the Conference Board released
its data showing there are nearly 4.5 million jobs advertised on the Internet. The
Board's data also show the top 10 career fields with a heavy presence of jobs requiring
hard skills. To me, this shows that good jobs are out there. We just need to retool
the programs we have to help our veterans compete for those very jobs.

Finally, there are legal protections for Guardsmen and Reservists who left work
to fight for our country. By law, they are entitled to have or go back to their
jobs when they come home; and we need to be aggressive in enforcement of this law.

Just one more thing. We need to have a better understanding of the demographics
of unemployed veterans, things like education levels, lengths of unemployment, skills
learned in the military, to name a few; and we will hear some of that from our witness
from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But I believe it is time to expand the facts that we know about unemployed
veterans.

As a beginning, I hope today's witnesses can provide some insight into what we
can do to help veterans get the jobs they want and they deserve. I have some
ideas of my own. So let's get the ball rolling.

I will soon introduce a new jobs bill for veterans, and the principles of my
bill are simple. We need to provide a meaningful retraining program for our older
veterans, who make up two-thirds of all unemployed veterans. We need to ensure that
the Transition Assistance Programs—TAP—for our younger veterans is effective and,
just as important, utilized when they separate from the military. We need to add
flexibility and accountability to federally-funded job training programs, and we
need to ensure that we have updated legal protections for veterans who want their
jobs back on their return from service active duty. And we must do a better job
of enforcing these protections.

I know Members will have other ideas as we go forward, but, keeping in line with
the theme of this hearing, I am anxious to roll up my sleeves and get to work. As
with any work, we need to set goals; and let me tell you what my goal is. I believe
that an unemployment rate between 4 and 5 percent is generally accepted to be full
employment in this country. So I want to begin today's hearing by setting a goal
to reduce unemployment among veterans from its current level of 7.7 percent to about
4.5 percent. That means, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics April data, we need
to reduce the number of unemployed veterans from April's number of 873,000 to 470,000,
or a reduction of about 400,000 veterans. I think we can do that, and I invite every
Member of this Committee to join me in achieving this goal—not just overnight—but
over the next year or 2, at the outside.

I now recognize our Ranking Member, Mr. Filner, for his opening remarks.

[The prepared statement of Chairman Miller appears
in the Appendix.]

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BOB FILNER

Mr. FILNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for having this hearing.

I ask that my opening statement be made part of the record.

The CHAIRMAN. Without objection.

Mr. FILNER. I would associate myself with your comments, except for one statement.
You start off with the mantra that we have to reduce taxes on small business, which
I would agree with, and cut spending. Then you go on to say how much we need more
training. It seems to me we have to increase spending in these areas, and I am not
afraid to come out and say it. We have to increase our spending in these areas.
If we are going to put people back to work, it is going to take some investment;
and maybe we can do another hearing on this, Mr. Chairman.

The VA has hired thousands and thousands of employees to deal with disability
payments and other issues. I suspect that they need to meet some percentage goals
in terms of hiring veterans. But this is the VA. It ought to go much further.
We could use those jobs as a training vehicle for people. Why aren't we hiring
all veterans for these jobs? Veterans in charge of the disability payment situation
would probably bring a whole new level of concern for those who are applying. But the VA ought just not to hire thousands of veterans. If it doesn't find qualified
veterans then it should train them.

Second, as you know, we have major construction projects in the VA and, of course,
around this whole government. I would find it hard to believe—and I would like to
have a hearing on it—that these construction projects meet some minimal guidelines
for hiring veterans. It should be a requirement for our VA construction projects
but also for construction projects across the government. We are spending billions
and billions of dollars, not only in VA, but the DoD. If the agencies say they can't
find qualified people, then let's train the veterans right on the job.

It seems to me we can meet your goal. I thank you for setting it, not just in
the public sector, but we should also be encouraging and having everybody understand
what they should do for our Nation's veterans.

I think we have to take what we have already and look at whether we are hiring
and meeting goals in these areas. I don't know the statistics, but I bet we are
not anywhere near what we ought to be if we are going to meet the goals that you
properly set, Mr. Chairman. So I hope that not we only encourage the private sector
by whatever we can do through the Congress and the White House to encourage that
amongst our citizens, but we ought to have a hearing on what the public sector is
doing in terms of meeting these goals.

Again, everybody says, well, I wish I could find qualified people. If you really
mean that, then you are obligated to train them and not just say they are not qualified.
I think we can meet these goals, but I think we have to make sure our own hiring
practices and our own contracting regulations are also in furtherance of that goal.

I yield back, Mr. Chairman.

[The prepared statement of Congressman Filner
appears in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. I thank my colleague for his remarks.

I would remind him, although there is a little bit of difference in the way we
think we need to raise the money, what I will propose will be within current spending
levels. We will have an offset that I believe he will probably most readily agree
with, that we can do that. So it is not a matter of spending more. It is definitely
spending it more efficiently.

Mr. FILNER. We're going to cut your staff?

The CHAIRMAN. And title 38 of section 4212—I heard you—requires all Federal contractors
to report jobs that are available and how many veterans that they employ. So I
will be happy to help you get the information that is out there, and I appreciate
your comments and your willingness to work together, as we have done so since the
first of the year.

I would like to ask the first panel, if they would, to come forward. As
you come forward, I will go ahead and make the introductions.

The first panel: Richard Hobbie, Executive Director of the National Association
of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA); followed by Ms. Jolene Jefferies, Vice President
of Strategic Initiatives of the DirectEmployers Association (DEA); and Kevin Schmiegel,
who is the Vice President of Employment Programs for the United States Chamber of
Commerce. And, finally, we have Henry Jackson, who is the Interim President and
Chief Executive Officer of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

Thank you for being here today. We appreciate your willingness to testify. We
apologize for having to have already postponed this hearing once. Thank you for
making adjustments to your schedule.

We would like to begin with Mr. Hobbie. You are recognized.

STATEMENTS OF RICHARD A. HOBBIE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
OF STATE WORKFORCE AGENCIES; JOLENE JEFFERIES, VICE PRESIDENT, STRATEGIC INITIATIVES,
DIRECTEMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION; KEVIN M. SCHMIEGEL, VICE PRESIDENT, VETERANS EMPLOYMENT
PROGRAMS, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE; AND HENRY JACKSON, INTERIM PRESIDENT AND CHIEF
EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

STATEMENT OF RICHARD A. HOBBIE

Mr. HOBBIE. Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and Members of the Committee,
on behalf of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, or NASWA, thank
you for the opportunity to discuss employment of veterans.

I am Rich Hobbie, Executive Director of NASWA. The members of NASWA are State
leaders of the publicly funded workforce system and are committed to providing the
highest quality of service to our Nation's veterans, National Guard members, and
Reservists.

As unemployment remains high, helping veterans transition from their military
to civilian careers remains a significant challenge. The Bureau of Labor Statistics,
or BLS, reported in March 2011, the jobless rate among the Nation's 22 million
veterans ages 18 and older was 8.7 percent in 2010, compared to 9.4 percent for
nonveterans. However, the 2.2 million veterans who served in the military since
September, 2001, had an unemployment rate of 11.5 percent in 2010. For these same
veterans ages 18 to 24, the unemployment rate was 21 percent, but this was not statistically
different from nonveterans of the same age.

NASWA members administer veterans programs funded through the U.S. Department
of Labor, or DOL. These programs are offered to veterans through the Nation's
nearly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers. State workforce agencies provide a wide range
of services for veterans, including the Disabled Veterans' Outreach program, or
DVOP, and Local Veterans' Employment Representatives, or LVERs. However, veterans
receive many more services through programs such as unemployment compensation for
ex-servicemembers, the UCX program; labor market information; labor exchange services;
assessment of skill levels; and job search assistance. All of these services are
offered to veterans under priority of service authorized by the Jobs for Veterans
Act, or JVA, enacted in 2002. It requires the workforce system to make veterans
a priority. States implemented JVA under guidance from DOL.

There are three fundamental challenges to employing veterans.

First, the economy. There are not enough jobs available for all job seekers.
Currently, the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings is about four to one.

Second, funding. Funding for employment services is barely half of what it was
30 years ago; and other workforce program funding, excluding unemployment benefits,
has remained relatively constant for the past 20 years.

Third, difficulty connecting veterans to the workforce system. Because of funding
cuts and efforts to improve, the workforce system has automated many of its services.
While this allows States to serve workers and employers, it has reduced in-person
consultation. While nearly all claimants, including veterans, file for unemployment
insurance via telephone or Internet, there is often limited in-person contacts with
One-Stop Career Centers. NASWA is working with DOL to improve this connection.
With about 36,000 veterans collecting UCX per week, this should be a high priority
for veterans on UCX.

An additional way State workforce agencies have responded to the these challenges
was the creation of the National Labor Exchange, or NLX. The NLX aims to capture
the greatest number of valid job openings. Some 49 States are participating in the
NLX. Since 2007, the NLX has provided over 9 million jobs to State workforce agencies
and is operated in partnership with DirectEmployers Association, a trade association
of over 600 Fortune 1,000 companies.

More specific challenges unique to veterans include, first, veterans are often
unable to obtain civilian credentials despite gaining related experience or training
while in the military. Second, many veterans have difficulty translating military
skills and experiences into civilian jobs. Third, employers have difficulty identifying
the location of veterans with certain skills. And, fourth, the Office of Federal
Contract Compliance, or OFCCP, has proposed regulations that would needlessly burden
Federal contractors and State workforce agencies by imposing unrealistic recordkeeping
and reporting requirements.

Mr. Chairman, NASWA looks forward to working with you and the Committee on these
challenges. Thank you.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Hobbie appears
in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.

Ms. Jefferies.

STATEMENT OF JOLENE JEFFERIES

Ms. JEFFERIES. Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and Members of the Committee,
on behalf of DirectEmployers Association thank you for the opportunity to discuss
our Association's veteran outreach programs for employers.

My name is Jolene Jefferies, and I am Vice President of Strategic Initiatives
for DirectEmployers. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Indianapolis, DirectEmployers
is a 501(c)(6) trade association owned and managed by over 600 Fortune 1,000 human
resource or HR executives. Our mission is to provide employers an employment network
that is cost-effective, improves labor market efficiency, and reaches an ethnically
diverse national and international workforce.

Consistent with our mission, DirectEmployers partnered with the National Association
of State Workforce Agencies, or NASWA, in 2007 to create the JobCentral National
Labor Exchange, or the NLX. The NLX replaced the previously federally funded America's
Job Bank and is a free job search engine to all employers, regardless of size, in
all industries. The NLX relies on no Federal funds but instead this unique public/private partnership leverages nonprofit-owned technology with existing State workforce
agency resources to enhance offerings to veterans.

Through VetCentral, a feature of the NLX, employers' job openings are automatically
indexed or scraped directly from their corporate career sites. These job openings
are then provided to the appropriate employment service delivery system nationwide
via e-mails to the disabled veteran outreach program coordinators and local veteran
employment representatives and in many cases are also electronically fed directly
into the State job banks. DirectEmployers goes above and beyond minimum regulatory
compliance mandates and also feeds members' job openings to many other related military
related and government Web sites.

Announced in April, the .Jobs universe military network is also free to all employers
and provides military personnel and their dependents access to more than 880,000
employment opportunities per month from over 90,000 employers nationwide. Over 5,800
.Jobs domains serve all branches of the Armed Forces and utilize the military occupational
classification, or MOC, to link military occupations to matching civilian occupations
such as www.42F.jobs. The .Jobs military family feature helps military families
and caregivers search for employment at their assigned base, such as www.CampPendleton.jobs.

DirectEmployers also established a Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee,
or RRCC, to provide consultation and guidance to employers on issues related to
veterans employment.

In a recent survey, employers identified five barriers in employing veterans.

One, just-in-time hiring process. Because employers utilize a just-in-time time
hiring process, employers would benefit from Federal and State employment services
that support this model. Turnover in HR departments is dynamic, and utilization
of the Internet, social media platforms, and related technologies are commonplace.
Companies seek to leverage cost- and time-effective resources that provide more
immediate recruiting solutions.

Two, skills and education translation. The military workforce is challenged with
the translation and transference of their education and skills.

Three, military to civilian certification. Several professions require
special licenses or accreditations. Transitioning military personnel are at
a disadvantage without such credentials. All levels of government need to implement
solutions that effectively balance current challenges with educational system gaps,
the accreditation of job seekers, and the fiscal demands and resources of civilian
employers.

Four, lack of data. There is no reliable data source that takes into account
the available pool of the military workforce, making it difficult for employers
to find qualified veterans.

Five, OFCCP consistency. Federal contractors have experienced challenges from
the OFCCP, especially during compliance evaluations that hampers collaboration.
First, their knowledge and appreciation of how State workforce agencies operate
is outdated; and, second, their standards and procedures across national, regional,
and district offices is inconsistent.

To help all employers more effectively employ veterans, DirectEmployers continues
to work with NASWA to offer an outstanding hiring and retaining veterans Webinar
education and training series for both employers and State workforce agencies. This
16-module series and its resources help employers expedite the learning curve in
developing, sharing, and implementing best practices and success strategies to attract
military candidates.

Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the opportunity to discuss the employers' perspective
and our initiatives to improve the employment outcomes of veterans. We are happy
to provide you with any additional information. Thank you.

[The prepared statement of Ms. Jefferies appears
in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Ms. Jefferies.

Mr. Schmiegel.

STATEMENT OF KEVIN M. SCHMIEGEL

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and Members of the Committee,
my name is Kevin Schmiegel; and I am the Vice President of Veterans Employment Programs
at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for the opportunity to appear as a witness
before the Committee and to speak to you about what the Chamber is doing to help
our Nation's heroes find meaningful employment in the private sector.

The reason the Chamber is focused on this issue is simple. Many of our members
want to hire veterans. Even with high unemployment, we have a huge skills gap in
America that is hindering our recovery and undermining our global competitiveness.
Veterans can help fill that gap. They have leadership experience and technical expertise.
They are problem solvers. And they are extremely reliable. Ninety percent of military
occupations are directly transferable to jobs in the private sector. The Chamber's
veterans programs will help raise awareness across the business community of this
great pool of talented workers.

As a veteran myself, it is an honor and privilege to be here. Two years ago today,
I retired from the United States Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel after 20 years
of service. My own transition from the military was full of good fortune. I was
lucky to have a mentor like former National Security Advisor Jim Jones. I was lucky
to be at the right place at the right time. And I was lucky to be hired by an organization
like the Chamber that understands and appreciates the values of hiring a veteran.

Not every veteran is that lucky. Of the 12 million veterans in the civilian workforce
last year, over 1 million of them were unemployed. While the jobless rate
for veterans in 2010 was comparable to the national average, there are some alarming
trends that may result in higher unemployment for veterans in the near term.

For example, the average unemployment rate for Post-9/11-era veterans last year
was 11.5 percent, and nearly 27 percent of veterans between the ages of 18 and 24
are currently without work. Members of the Guard and Reserve are experiencing significantly
higher unemployment rates at 14 percent.

With the potential drawdown of our Armed Forces and higher rates of unemployment
for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the Chamber initiated several programs
that will enhance private-sector job opportunities.

In March, we started a year-long nationwide campaign called Hiring Our
Heroes. This initiative was launched in partnership with Mr. Ray Jefferson, the
Assistant Secretary for the Department of Labor VETS, and Mr. Ron Young,
Executive Director of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

There are four pillars to Hiring Our Heroes. While our main focus is on conducting
100 hiring fairs in local communities across America, we have also created strategic
partnerships in three other areas to deal with specific populations of veterans
and their unique challenges. They include wounded warriors, student veterans, and
women veterans and military spouses.

Our aggressive agenda focuses is on one measure of success: jobs for the 1 million
unemployed veterans in America. In the post-training year, we will host 100 hiring fairs
with the help of local Chambers of Commerce in all 50 States. The first of 100 took
place in Chicago on March 24, and it was a huge success, with 127 employers and
1,200 veterans and their spouses participating. Roughly 150 of them are likely to
get jobs. Through this campaign we hope to connect 100,000 veterans and spouses
with over 1,000 different employers over the next 12 months.

Our program for wounded warriors is tailored to meet their unique challenges
and demands. In partnership with the USO and Hire Heroes USA, we are hosting quarterly
transition workshops and career opportunity days in Fort Carson, Colorado, and Fort
Belvoir, Virginia.

The Chamber is working with student veterans of America's on a jobs and internship
program to help our Nation's youngest generation of veterans. It will be launched
this month at over 350 colleges and universities and will be available to over 40,000
student veterans seeking internships and job opportunities across the Nation.

Finally, we are partnering with Business and Professional Women's Foundation
and the Department of Defense to help women veterans and military spouses find private-sector
jobs at home and abroad. The goal of the program is to significantly decrease women
veteran and military spouse unemployment by establishing a network of 10,000 women
mentors in the business community by the end of 2012.

There are four principles that are critical to success: First, local communities
must be the cornerstone of any national program to reduce veterans' unemployment.
Second, we must do a better job of coordinating public and private-sector efforts.
Third, we must look for innovative ways to assist transitioning veterans. And, fourth,
all programs, existing and new, should be measured against clear objectives and
established metrics so we can focus on what is working and stop funding programs
that are not producing results.

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and distinguished Members of the Committee,
the Chamber is committed to helping veterans and their spouses find and keep good
jobs. Thank you for this Committee's unwavering commitment and support of veterans
and their families. I appreciate this opportunity.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Schmiegel appears
in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much.

Mr. Jackson, thank you for being with us today. You are recognized.

STATEMENT OF HENRY JACKSON

Mr. JACKSON. Thank you. Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, Members of the
Committee, I am Henry Jackson, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of
the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, as we are known. I thank you
for the opportunity to address an issue of great importance to the human resource
profession. We consider this one of our major focuses: easing the transition of
military veterans into the civilian workforce.

First, as the world's largest association dedicated to human resource management,
our members appreciate that almost half of our Nation's military strength resides
in the National Guard and Reserve. For this reason, SHRM formed a partnership with
the Department of Defense's Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) early last
year. Through this partnership, SHRM is linking all 600 SHRM State councils and
chapters with their local ESGR offices. As of today, more than 300 SHRM chapters
and 31 SHRM State councils have signed a statement of support for this program.

Soon after forging our partnership with ESGR, we inaugurated a military hiring
program as part of our 2010 annual conference. Building on the enthusiastic response
we received for last year's program, we are holding another veterans workshop at
our conference next month, offering it at no charge to more than 12,000 HR professionals.

SHRM has also developed a deeper relationship with the Department of Labor Veterans'
Employment and Training Service, or VETS. The core of our work with VETS is in helping
the agency to inform employers across the Nation about the resources that are available
to them to hire and engage veterans.

In a related effort, the White House invited SHRM to participate in Joining Forces,
an initiative focused on the needs of military families. SHRM is developing
resources on effective practices for recruiting and retaining military spouses,
maximizing workplace flexibility, and other policies to support military families.

Through these efforts we have identified opportunities to make these programs
more effective for both the veterans and the employers alike.

First, 71 percent of HR professionals are unaware of or somewhat unsatisfied
with the programs to help them find and assimilate veterans into their workforces.
Part of this problem may lie in the number of Federal, as well as State, programs
devoted to veterans employment as well as the coordination of those programs.

Second, it is clear that there are some misunderstandings about how to address
the workplace needs of veterans with combat-related disabilities as well as the
availability of assistance.

Third, retention of veterans is also an issue. Last year, Mymilitarytransition.com
surveyed veterans and HR managers on why job retention beyond 18 months is often
difficult. Veterans cited lack of cultural fit as the leading reason, while HR managers
described it as an inability to let go of the military way of doing things.

Finally, many returning veterans face a unique challenge in translating their
specialized skills into a civilian job. Last spring, a SHRM poll found that 60 percent
of respondents said translating military skills was the biggest hurdle for veterans
in the job search process.

At SHRM, we are committed to facing these challenges head on to successfully
bring together employers and veterans in a manner that truly serves our heroes as
well as the business community. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, SHRM
and its members will continue efforts to assist employers in finding, recruiting,
and retaining military veterans.

As we work together to improve employment outcomes for transitioning servicemembers,
we suggest the following to foster greater employment opportunities and more effective
programs:

First, encourage continued partnerships between the employer community and the
relevant agencies.

Second, clarify and educate employers about the role of the Federal agencies.
Employers would greatly benefit from having a more streamlined set of resources
that they can consult to find veteran talent, post their job openings, and find
information about hiring veterans and other transitioning servicemembers.

Finally, improve and increase uniformity in transition assistance for servicemembers.
As noted in our testimony, guidance provided to individuals leaving the military
should prepare them for what employers need to hire, including translation of military
skills, interviewing techniques, and job search advice. Having a more uniform system
understood by both employers and transitioning servicemembers would greatly benefit
both.

Thank you for this opportunity to come before you, and we look forward to partnering
with you in achieving a smooth transition for every returning veteran. I welcome
your questions.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Jackson appears
in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Jackson.

Thanks to each of you for your testimony.

I think we have heard a common thread among a lot of what you have had to say.
There are a lot of programs out there and a lot of information out there, a lot
of ways that people can get to it, but nobody knows it is there. How do we
do it? We already have the programs in place. The Web sites are out there. VA
has it. SHRM has it.

Who wants to start? I would be glad to hear from any one of you on a simple way
to fix the problem.

Mr. JACKSON. I will take that, simply because SHRM, as a human resource association,
sort of takes this on as one of our responsibilities.

I truly believe that education is what is sorely lacking. When we go to our members—we
surveyed our members last year—53 percent of our members indicated that they were
actually attempting to hire veterans but were not sure about how to go about it,
how to target veterans.

We believe that through the programs with the Department of Labor VETS that we
are developing a toolkit for veterans and employers that we hope to roll out sometime
before the end of the year in conjunction with the Department of Labor. We believe
that our members are truly committed to this cause. It is a matter of giving them
a succinct place to go to identify how to address this issue.

Mr. HOBBIE. Mr. Chairman, I agree that partnerships with employers and Federal
and State and local agencies is extremely important. Of course, we have made great
progress on that the last 4 years with our partnership with DirectEmployers Association,
and we continue to make progress.

Ms. JEFFERIES. I can just say I kicked off—we did a DirectEmployers Association
hiring and retaining veterans Webinar education series, and it has been keeping
me incredibly busy. There is definitely a strong interest in this.

To Mr. Jackson's point, there is a lot of turnover in these human resource departments,
and it does require continuous education and communication. And we just can't
stop that effort. It has to be an ongoing initiative.

And so, in that spirit, we are providing this education series, recording it,
and it is open to the public, does not cost anything. We have had State workforce
agencies, DVOPs, LVERs, the VA, the OFCCP, employers, all demanding this training.
And so there is a huge need for that.

The CHAIRMAN. Finally, Mr. Schmiegel.

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. Thank you, sir.

I would like to make two points. The first point, which is one of the principles
we talked about, is that the effort has to be focused on the local community.

In my last assignment as a Marine, I was the head of enlisted assignment monitors.
I managed 60 human resource specialists in the Marine Corps that assigned 170,000
Marines worldwide. One of our other primary responsibilities was to retain Marines.
We only retain about one out of every four first-term Marines. So when we were doing
our interviews to talk to those Marines about their decision to leave, we often
asked them what they were going to do next. They never talked about what they were
going to do next. They always talked about where they were going. The fact is veterans
and their families are returning to local communities every day.

So the second point, which talks to the local community, is efforts have to be
better coordinated between the public and private sector in those local communities.
Our approach is simple. We are going to do 100 events, 100 hiring fairs
in those local communities, using the local Chambers of Commerce and the relationships
that we have formed nationally with the Department of Labor VETS and with the Employer
Support of the Guard and Reserve. And Ray Jefferson's State Directors and Ron Young's
team of State Directors in the Guard and Reserve are going to get together in those
local communities and execute events. If we focus on local communities and we better
coordinate public and private-sector efforts, we will be more successful.

The CHAIRMAN. I salute the Chamber on the 100 job fairs that you are talking
about holding, but I think you just hit on part of your problem. If they are all
returning to their home communities, you have tens of thousands of communities, which
we need to be penetrating and be able to communicate with them. So how do we solve
that problem? They all want to go home. I certainly understand that. We have small cities of several thousands to large cities of millions.

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. I think there have to be several different models, several different
approaches to this. So we conducted what Ray and I refer to as mega hiring
fairs in cities like Chicago, in cities like New York, in cities like Los Angeles.
That model may have over 100, 150 employers and a couple thousand veterans and their
spouses attend. We generally have high-level speakers. We have transitional workshops
to offer in conjunction with that.

When we go to small areas—we will be in Great Falls, Montana, on August 13—the
model is different. You have to focus on fewer number of employees, and you have
to also take into account that neighboring States from Montana may have significantly
lower rates of unemployment than Great Falls. So you may ask a big employer like
Halliburton, who has a significant number of jobs in the eastern portion of the
State and in the neighboring State, to offer jobs to veterans and their families
to relocate either in Montana or to a neighboring State.

So I think the answer to the question is the model is different. You have to
start somewhere. A hundred is a very aggressive number. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
has over 1,700 local Chambers of Commerce affiliated with us. Next year, if this
campaign is successful, we hope that the 100 becomes 500; and the year after that
we hope the 500 becomes 1,000.

Thank you.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.

Mr. Filner.

Mr. FILNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I thank you all for your testimony and for your efforts.

This is, obviously, a Congressional hearing and we have oversight of the VA.
I haven't heard any suggestions on what we ought to be doing or what the VA ought
to be doing. It looks like the only guys doing anything in government is Mr. Jefferson
over here, from the testimony. I know you have false modesty.

What are we all doing here? This ought to be a top priority for everybody. I
can imagine—and you guys are the experts—but if I just thought about it for a
few seconds I could think of what the VA could be doing.

Why isn't every regional office, for example, putting out a list of veterans
and their specialties and what jobs they are seeking? You guys all said that we
have trouble linking up with the veterans. Well, the VA knows every veteran. Let's
just put out a list of everybody who is looking for a job. It just doesn't seem
difficult.

We hear about the transition of skills in the military and how they are hard
to translate. We could deem anybody who is in electronics or a medic or a truck
driver and give them a certificate that says, for the purposes of hiring, this serves
as qualifications for entry-level employment. People can then be trained further.

These servicemembers have incredible skills. We have been working on this civilian
certification for decades. Nobody can seem to solve it. We have guys driving
trucks all over Iraq and Afghanistan. They come home and find out they have to take
a 6-month course to get a commercial driver's license. What do they need that for?
They get discouraged because they know how to do it. They do it under the most difficult
conditions you can imagine. Let them have a certificate that starts with a job.
The same idea for our electronics people or medics.

I have watched these medics. They do things that no civilian would ever think
of doing, and yet they have to go through some other certification, masters
program and go to this college or that college. They have the training. We
could just do it.

I would like you to give us some suggestions either in law, or regulation, or
Executive Order, that we can help you do the kind of things you are doing every
day. You are out there. We ought to be helping you in every way we can. The VA's
job is to do that. Give us one thing we can do, if each of you could do that?

Ms. JEFFERIES. I think, for starters, what would really help employers—and we
don't need a list of names necessarily—but even just a simple heat map, for instance,
that shows what the talent pools of the veterans are, what their skills are, and
where in terms of geography where can we find certain veterans with specific skills.
That way we can at least hone down our recruiting strategy.

Mr. FILNER. Done. Let's do it.

Anybody from the VA here? Where is Ms. Fanning?

Heat map? Whatever a heat map is, let's do it. I can imagine what it is, but
I am sure it is easy.

Mr. JACKSON. I would just like to follow on what Mr. Schmiegel said, is that
it is getting into the individual communities. Although we have just started this
project last March, we have 600 chapters around the country. We are in small towns,
big towns. We are in towns where the veterans are going back to. But what we are
trying to do is make sure that we connect all of the agencies, including the Labor
Department, including the Veterans Department, with the individuals. And our members
are the individuals that actually do the hiring.

Mr. FILNER. Mr. Jackson, I understand what you are saying. You gave us three
very general ideas. Give me something specific to do. You are talking about connections
but what do you need the VA to do, or DOL to do, or this Committee to do, to provide
you with that? Do you want a list of names of people coming back to those communities?
If so, let's just do it. Give us something that apparently all our bureaucrats,
hundreds of thousands of them, aren't thinking of. Because this stuff isn't difficult.
We have all the information and resources as a VA to do this. Just give us something
specific.

Mr. JACKSON. I think the one specific thing that I think we are working on that
I think will make a difference is bringing the agencies together and having a single
portal for people to go through. Right now, it is up to an organization like SHRM
to go to DOL, to go to VA, to go to ESGR. If we had some single point of contact—I
think that is the biggest frustration with our members, is they do not have that
single point of contact to go to. I think that would address 50 percent of it.

Mr. FILNER. Mr. Jefferson is going to turn around to Ms. Fanning, and we are
going to do that tomorrow.

See, we got it done.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Schmiegel, real quickly.

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. Firstly, I think we are doing it already. I think if you look
at this initiative to do the hundred hiring fairs—it is in its nascent stages—we
will see progress over time.

If you could help in one area, it would be to measure. I don't think we do a
very good job of measuring whether or not the programs are working. I think we need
to look—the Chamber is trying to do this, and it is extremely frustrating. After
the hiring fair for Chicago, we set up a survey for employers and veterans, and
you get a 20 percent reply rate. So if there is a way for the government to figure
out how to measure whether or not the programs that we have in place are working,
i.e., when a veteran is placed we know that it was the result of a specific program,
that would be of the greatest benefit. And that is how we will make a difference.

Mr. FILNER. Thank you very much.

Mr. HOBBIE. Mr. Filner, one of the suggestions we have is to focus on the veterans
that have recently left the military and are claiming unemployment compensation
for ex-servicemembers. If we made a greater attempt to translate their military
occupations into civilian occupations and then assessed their skills and determined
whether they needed some additional training or certification, which the system
could provide to them so that they can move from unemployment into a suitable job
faster than they might otherwise, we think that would have a significant impact.

Now it is a small portion of the total program. We only have about 36,000 veterans
on unemployment compensation for ex-servicemembers now. But it could have a significant
impact for those individuals.

Mr. FILNER. Thank you.

The CHAIRMAN. Dr. Benishek.

Mr. BENISHEK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Filner. I thank the panel.

It seems interesting here to hear statements. Mr. Schmiegel said like 90 percent
of military jobs are directly transferable to jobs in the private sector. Mr. Jackson
didn't quite agree with that. There are some questions about how your military experience
is translatable into a civilian job. That is something I noticed here in the testimony.

The other thing I noticed is there seems to be a lack of a clearinghouse of veterans
that are available for jobs. It seems to me to be something that the VA could provide,
as Mr. Filner has suggested. Do you have any advice as to how we might do that or
how that might work, Ms. Jefferies?

Ms. JEFFERIES. Yes. We have an MOC translator with the .Jobs network that I mentioned
as well as with the National Labor Exchange site so that a candidate, a military
job seeker, can type in their MOC and it renders back matches to civilian occupations.
So it does do that work.

What we see, though, when we are reviewing resumes is the military candidates
themselves are not doing a good job presenting their own skills and credentials.
There is a big, big issue with this issue of accreditation and licenses. And that
is an education issue in each of these States where there is variances in what qualifies
an EMT to have a State license in State A versus State B. So there is inconsistencies
across the States.

So if we could at least have a consistent standard of a military occupation and
apply that to all the States, a huge problem would be solved where we have that consistent
standard for, say, the top 10 occupations, top 25 occupations. And that would be
a really big start for employers in just cutting through that barrier, and it would
get these veterans back to work much more quickly because they wouldn't be required
to go get reeducated in some areas that they already know very well.

Mr. BENISHEK. Well, it does seem surprising that the VA doesn't offer some sort
of Web site to go to for veterans as sort of a clearinghouse so job seekers and
potential employers could go to at least get acquainted on the Internet.

Ms. JEFFERIES. There are several Web sites. You have VetSuccess, which primarily
focuses through the VR&E, the vocational and rehabilitation needs of disabled veterans.
And that is a very good service.

And then you have services with all the States, for example.

And to Mr. Schmiegel's point, doing this at the local level is really important
because that is where the rubber hits the road. That is where the HR person is meeting
with that candidate, is in that local area. So it is very important to establish
partnerships locally, even when you have Web sites. Web sites are just one component
of a recruiting strategy, but at some point you need that personal contact, and
that comes through developing partnerships at the local level.

Mr. BENISHEK. I agree. I applaud the Chamber's effort. It seems like you are
really doing something. But to try to coordinate what you are doing with the population
as a whole, it seems maybe that is something that the VA could do better.

Is there any other advice you might want to give to me here?

Ms. JEFFERIES. I do think those job fairs are especially helpful. But, again,
it is touching just a fraction of the communities out there. So if you are hiring
in Rawlins, Wyoming, in the middle of Timbuktu, some of that is not going to reach
those pockets where a lot of employment happens in smaller communities.

And so, again, that is one of the reasons why we have implemented veteran outreach
education program for employers to bring them to those sources. There are
some 8,000 Web sites alone that are used for veterans employment, and it is overwhelming
for employers to sort through all of that. And so we are trying to provide resources
to kind of cut through that and save them that research time. And that includes
the NVTI directory of DVOPs and LVERs. It includes the VA directory of the regional
managers, those kind of information.

Because to sit down and do a Google search, you get overwhelmed; and right away
it is just daunting to try to figure that out on your own. So I think the education
and communication and training of employers is especially critical and would definitely
be very helpful.

Mr. BENISHEK. Mr. Schmiegel, did you have a comment?

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. I would just like to add, I think as someone who separated from
the military 2 years ago and saw the vast resources that were out there in the public
and private sector for veterans, I think it is a little bit confusing for them.
There are hundreds and hundreds of programs. So I am a huge advocate of a single
national portal that the public sector is working on right now.

If you ask me as a veteran leaving the service if you could do one thing, it
would be to cut down on duplicative efforts, to cut down on conflicting efforts,
and to make things less confusing for veterans and their families. So the notion
of a single national portal that all veterans and families can go to
look for
jobs, to look at what is going on in local communities to see what they have to
do when they are reassimilating into their hometowns after service, that makes the
greatest sense.

We also have to focus on the issue of retention. I think that Mr. Jackson's comments
were spot on. But the only way to keep veterans is for the business community to
have more internship opportunities and more mentoring opportunities. So we have
to build that network. Because, again—and it is not because I am a product of the
military myself—it isn't a function of the inability of the servicemember to let
go of the military way of doing things. It is clearly the lack of cultural fit that
is affecting their transition. So the government and the private sector need to
work together to improve internships, to improve apprenticeships, and to improve
our mentoring network in the business community.

Mr. BENISHEK. Yes, sir.

Mr. HOBBIE. I would just like to add that States are also innovating in this
area. And the Chairman's own State of Florida, for example, implemented a veterans
portal similar to what you are suggesting. I know the Federal Government is working
on that, too. So there is a good example at the State level.

And, in addition, the State of Texas has a College Credit for Heroes program
which helps individuals who have left the military gain some credit for their military
training and experience at the college level.

Mr. BENISHEK. Thank you, gentlemen.

I yield back.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Doctor.

Mr. Michaud.

Mr. MICHAUD. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, for having
this hearing. I just have a few questions.

I listened to some of the answers. I think everyone pretty much agrees that you
have to have a central focus. With all the different training programs
out there, it is extremely difficult, number one.

Number two, I think part of the problem, whether it is the Department of Labor
VETS program, or the One-Stop Career Centers, they have been inadequately
funded and the staff is not there to actually help out the veterans that need their
jobs. So there is that issue that is problematic. Then it becomes a problem.

If you look at our servicemembers, I heard several discussions about large metropolitan
areas doing these programs. However, 40 percent of the servicemembers coming back live
in rural areas; and there is no way I can see where, regardless of what effort might
be out there, for the Chamber to get the Chambers to focus in real rural areas.
It is just not going to happen.

So the question is: How are you going to be able to do this? I am just wondering,
for any of the panels, have you focused on—and I will give you an example. For instance,
when they closed the mills down in my hometown, both Senator Snowe and I knew the
big issue was going to be health care. We also knew the drug companies offer different
programs for either low- or no-cost prescription drugs. What we didn't know is there
are over 375 different programs. You have to fill out about 14 pages of paperwork.
And if you are unemployed, you are not going to do it. I see the same problem with
veterans.

However, we were able to get them to actually narrow that down to four questions
that they would answer and then that would actually let them know what was available
as far as prescription drugs.

And I don't see where this is any different, when you look at trying to find
a program, if you can actually have a program that is very simplistic for them to
answer that actually might pair them up—I would like to have you comment on that.

The second issue I would like to have you comment on is, if you look at one of
the problems with soldiers leaving the military, whether it is active duty or National
Guard or Reserves, they are anxious to get home and they are not going to take time
to look at a lot of different issues. Do you think it actually might be wise for
the Department of Defense actually in preparing them while they are still in service
to fill out these questionnaires as far as jobs so at least they will be able to
have that ready so when they leave service they will actually have opportunities?

Because once they leave, they are going to get into other issues, whether it
is back in the community, whether it is family problems, or what have you. So I
think the time to really focus on the bulk of it is while they are currently in
the military.

So I don't know if anyone wants to comment on those two different areas.

Mr. JACKSON. I would say that you have to have both. Our experience
has been that it can't be a single contact, it can't be a 30-day contact, it has
to be an ongoing contact with the veterans and with the Veterans Affairs and
with the vets. And part of our program is to set up a facility for Veterans Affairs
or the VETS program to have constant contact with the individuals, the 600 chapters
that we have across the Nation in the U.S.

The challenge I still think is that, and with my colleague's comments, is that
there has to be some guidance, some more guidance. And I think a single toolkit,
which is what we are working on, a single toolkit to say—to essentially say these
are the options that you have, this is the information you need, we think that is
a first step. We think the bigger step is for the private sector and the government
to come together and have that single toolkit. But, right now, we believe that,
as SHRM, we are going to develop that single toolkit for the individuals.

Mr. HOBBIE. The State workforce agencies are working closely with the Department
of Labor on this particular issue in the area of attempting to help re-employ unemployment
insurance claimants in particular. It is called the Connectivity Project, and one
of the aspects of that project is to create an integrated application system that
would be available on the Internet so that when an individual applies for programs
the information would be entered once and then could be used for these other programs
that might be available to the individual. Also in that effort are concerted attempts
to try to assess the skills of the personnel leaving the military and to try to
match them with jobs. And, also, we are looking at the various social media to try
to facilitate communication among job seekers and also employers.

Ms. JEFFERIES. The Marines is the only service branch that requires TAP, and
I think that if all of the branches could require that at a minimum at least veterans
transitioning out of the military would be aware of the employment services offered
through the public workforce system and would have a better opportunity in establishing
these linkages and learning what their local employment office can do to help them.

The other thing is that employers more and more utilize the Just-in-Time Hiring
process. When I was human resources director of employment for Union Pacific we
often had candidates contact us ahead of time and apply for jobs as they were transitioning
out. They are coached through TAP to do that about 3 to 6 months before they actually
completed their service. And what we ran into were conflicts that we wanted to offer
them a job but we needed them to start now, and so that they almost started too
early in the process.

So there is some education that is required with the veterans and job seekers
coming out of the military regarding how employers hire and the fact that when we
make that job offer it is immediate. And so we implemented a program that was a
delayed entry program and extended job offers further out. But that is not always
easy for employers to manage, either. But I really think that that education
on the front end is very critical, and it is all about the timing.

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. Can I just add one comment?

I think you have to look at this in phases. I think the whole notion of hiring
fairs in every community across America is not realistic. I understand that. But,
again, I think in order to create a movement across the United States that you have
to start with something.

When Ray Jefferson and I first started talking about this, we broke it down into
phases. This is a high-touch approach. But as the high-tech approach comes
online
and you have a portal, the high touch does not go away. You still have to welcome
veterans and their families home.

So if you look at this in phases and you focus on creating this national portal,
you continue to create this movement across America with these hiring fairs in local
communities, I think you will have the infrastructure in place, you will also have
the spirit and the momentum in place to really make a difference in this space.

In regards to reaching out to rural areas, there is a focus on rural areas. It is just that when you look at 100 cities, you want to have the biggest impact
in the first year so you can show other communities that you are having that impact.

In Iowa, there are 3,200 Guard and Reservists coming back in September. We have
nine local chambers of commerce in nine separate cities in Iowa ready to do
hiring fairs a month after those Guard and Reservists get back. That is how you
create a movement Statewide. And those are all rural cities right in the heart
of America.

Thanks.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.

Mr. Huelskamp.

Mr. HUELSKAMP. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the comments and the folks
appearing here before the Committee.

I have a follow-up question for Mr. Schmiegel, if I might.

You had mentioned the single national portal. Can you describe that in a little
more detail what you are envisioning and where it is at in the process? Is that
something being put in place now? If you could describe it a little further, I would
appreciate it.

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. This is a public-sector initiative for all the government agencies.
They are working together to create a national portal for veterans and their families
to use as they are transitioning from the military to civilian workforce.

Mr. HUELSKAMP. Any other folks here, can they describe that a little bit more?

Mr. JACKSON. We are participating in the development effort of that portal. And,
again, it is mainly to have a one-stop shop for veterans and employers to come. And
although every answer may not be at that portal, there will be links to other sites.
For instance, there may be a job posting site at SHRM that links off of that portal
that will help veterans find jobs as well as employers find veterans.

Mr. HUELSKAMP. Mr. Schmiegel, you think this works for the employers as well
as—I mean, we have talked a lot about, obviously, the potential employer-employees.
My question is on the employer side. And you think this works in that the employers
actually would use this particular system in a manner that would be helpful to them?

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. I have talked to several big companies in America. I think that
Ray has also spoken to several big employers that are waiting for the portal to
come online and they would use it.

I mean, right now we have band-aid fixes throughout the private sector to do
this. You have private-sector companies that do this. The private sector will continue
to adapt and continue to come up with its own means to hire veterans. The fact is,
if you talk to employers across the country, they want to hire veterans. So I think
a national portal will be widely used by small business, by medium-size business
and by big business.

Mr. HUELSKAMP. I appreciate that.

In visiting with employers in my district they have never mentioned a portal. What they have mentioned is we would like to hire more veterans; we would like to
hire more folks. If we could actually just improve the job climate, it would solve
a lot of our problems. And I am sure you hear that at Chamber.

Would you have three top things you all would suggest broadly so we could just
improve the job climate so there are actually jobs out there for veterans to apply
for.

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. I think a reasonable tax structure would be one thing that needs
to be addressed. I think the regulatory environment in terms of businesses being
able to hire in an environment where it makes sense to hire. And then there is an
overriding issue of uncertainty.

So if you look at taxes and regulations, if business owners, small, medium, and
large, have certainty in those two main areas, they will start to hire.

Mr. HUELSKAMP. Thank you. I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. McNerney.

Mr. MCNERNEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We all want the same thing here. We want to figure out how to hook up the veterans
that are out there with the jobs that are out there.

Ms. Jefferies, I would like to ask you a little bit more on the other side of
this, rather than encouraging all these agencies and all these contractors, have
there been any penalties assessed lately against contractors that have not met Federal
regulations in terms of hiring veterans?

Ms. JEFFERIES. In our survey that we did, there were a handful of companies that
did report they are under some conciliation agreements to improve the hiring of
veterans in their organizations. So, yes, there have been some cases where employers
could do a better job.

And at the end of the day it boils down to those HR people being so new they
are just not aware of many of the programs that exist and how to go about doing
this. And so, again, this education is, to me, a number one priority. And employers
are hungry for it. And I think if we can just keep in mind that companies have a
lot of turnover, we can't just go once and be done, it is a constant effort that
needs to be a constant initiative that will never, ever be done.

Mr. MCNERNEY. But, I mean, as long as they just get their little wrists slapped
they are going to say, well, we will get to it when we get to it. If there are assessments
made, then they will be more likely to think about that as a priority.

Ms. JEFFERIES. Absolutely. I mean, when you are audited by the OFCCP that is
always a very challenging process to get through. But if you end up with a conciliation
agreement, that can be serious. And so if they want to maintain their Federal contracts
they will respond to that. And I still say at the end of the day it all ties back
to communication and education.

Mr. MCNERNEY. Thank you.

Mr. Hobbie, one of the things you said kind of struck me in your testimony, is
that there is one-half the funding for local and State employment agencies as there
was 30 years ago, I think you said.

Mr. HOBBIE. Right.

Mr. MCNERNEY. What is the source of that funding that has been diminished by
50 percent?

Mr. HOBBIE. The source for appropriations for Wagner-Peyser Act labor exchange
services is the Federal unemployment tax paid by employers into the Federal-State
unemployment insurance system.

Mr. MCNERNEY. So what you are saying then is there is a 50 percent reduction
in Federal contribution to these agencies that could make a difference in terms
of hiring veterans?

Mr. HOBBIE. That is right.

Mr. MCNERNEY. Okay. All right. Thank you.

Mr. Schmiegel—and I am going to follow up on a comment from Mr. Benishek—you
said that there were 90 percent skills that are transferrable from veterans to civilian
employees. In an ideal world where the veterans had qualifications and the employers
knew what those qualifications meant and so on, do you think that we could employ
90 percent? Could you explain that number a little bit better?

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. I don't think we could employ 90 percent. Maybe that is a little
bit misleading, that figure, because some occupational specialties in the military
have huge numbers.

So let's just take infantrymen. Some would argue that that is not a skill set
that is directly transferrable to the civilian workforce. If you look at the Army
and the Marine Corps, there are a large number of infantrymen serving. So that 90
percent does not directly translate into 90 percent of veterans being able to transition
into the workforce.

I think you need programs to help other occupational specialities in the military
transfer to the civilian workforce. I mean, we are firm proponents of that. You
can easily do that with better certification and licensing. You can do that with
apprenticeship programs. You can do that with mentoring.

I think some of these young men and women that don't have occupations in the
military that are directly transferrable are good leaders and can easily transfer
to the civilian workforce.

Mr. MCNERNEY. Does the VA have a Web site that veterans can go to and put their
resumes on that are accessible? That sounds like something that is easy—would
be easy to implement in the VA.

Okay, I guess that is all I have, and I am just about out of time. I yield back.

The CHAIRMAN. I think one of the things we probably also need to—while we are
focusing on trying to make sure that whatever skill set that they have while they
are in the military is important to bring it forward, but the other thing that we
need to focus on as well is I was speaking with a home builder the other day. He said, I can teach somebody to frame a house, I can teach somebody to put a roof
on, but these men and women that are coming out of the service have skill sets that
other people don't have, honesty, integrity, the ability to get up and work many,
many hours at a time. So let's not lose that focus as well.

Mr. Schmiegel.

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. Just a little anecdote for that. When we were in Chicago the day
of the hiring fair, a small local builder hired six veterans on the spot because
he has seen that in practice. It is as simple as that.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Barrow.

Now Mr. Braley.

Mr. BRALEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And, Mr. Schmiegel, I understand before I was able to arrive you spoke about
the Iowa National Guard, specifically the fact that 3,200 of them will be demobilizing
soon and that that will create an enormous challenge in our State, given the size
of our State and the fact that, even though we have been fortunate our unemployment
rate State-wide has been below the national average, it is still a tight job market.

When 60 Minutes featured Medal of Honor winner Sal Giunta Sunday night from Hiawatha,
Iowa, you know, somebody like that has the type of notoriety that he is probably
going to have a lot of potential job offers. But the sad reality for the 3,200 members
of the Iowa National Guard is they went, they did their job, and now they are coming
home to a dramatically different workplace environment than when they left a year
ago.

One of the frustrating challenges often in dealing with the Guard and Reserve
is they don't have some of the same institutional support that you get when you
are on active-duty service and there are a lot of base-related assistance available
to you. They go off into their home communities. Many of them are from smaller towns
in rural areas, and the availability of assistance close at hand isn't what it is
in a larger urban area.

So could you just talk a little bit about what the game plan is at these different—I
can't remember what specifically you describe them as—these nine centers that are
going to be set up and how that is going to work.

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. Yes, sir. One of the strengths of the program that the Chamber
is implementing is, again, at the local community level. Local Chambers of Commerce
generally don't have big companies as members. They have small companies. So the
strength of a program in Iowa specifically that we address in those nine communities,
the local Chambers of Commerce will reach out to their individual business communities
and ask them to support this demobilization.

We are working with the employer support of the Guard and Reserve who also has
a network of employers, medium—mostly medium and large businesses.

So, again, if you look at the Chamber as a private-sector organization and the
businesses affiliated with us, the 3 million across America through our local chambers,
and you look at the employer support of the Guard and Reserve and our access to
National Guard and Reserve units, we can easily look at the Yellow Ribbon events
that they have going on throughout the country in small communities across America
and coordinate our efforts. It is as simple as that.

If you have a unit coming back in September, you plan for a hiring fair with
the local Chamber of Commerce in October or November. I guarantee you if you go
back to some local communities, some cities across the country, you will see
hiring fairs right now or events in August and you have a Guard and Reserve unit
coming back in September.

So the very essence of coordinating is looking at when you have those folks
coming
back and trying to do something that will help them find employment a month or two
after they do get back.

Mr. BRALEY. One of the big challenges and frustrations is the obstacles that
the DoD sometimes presents in terms of making sure that these demobilizing soldiers
are getting the type of benefits that they are entitled to under the GI Bill. We
ran into this when the Iowa Guard came home from Iraq after the longest combat deployment
of any unit several years ago and were denied additional GI Bill benefits, which
many of them use in order to increase their employability by getting further education
or job skills.

So I would just encourage you to take that message back to the Chamber and encourage
them to maintain open lines of communication at the DoD. Even though it is not directly
related to what you are talking about, it can sometimes serve as an impediment to
young people trying to restart their careers when they come home.

But I do want to thank you for the Chamber's efforts, and I yield back.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Filner.

Mr. FILNER. Just briefly.

We have talked a lot about connections and communicating information. How
about incentives? Have the tax credits worked? What if we paid a year's salary or
5-year's salary for businesses that hire veterans? We bailed out everybody in the
country. Why don't we bail out our veterans? We talk about trying to hook up the
veterans with employers. What if an employer knew that the salary was going to
be paid? They would seek out the veterans. What is your sense of if that will work?

Mr. HOBBIE. Well, I am not an expert on the research evidence. But what I am
aware of on employment tax credits is that they are not particularly effective.
However, such programs, not only tax expenditures or tax credits or direct spending
to subsidize employment, can work better if the programs are targeted on those who
are unlikely to find jobs otherwise. Now, that is easy to say and hard to
do.

Mr. FILNER. So like the 18 to 24 who came out of special like infantry, you could
target those, right?

Mr. HOBBIE. Correct.

Mr. FILNER. Any other comment?

Yes, sir.

Mr. SCHMIEGEL. I think that if the tax credits are focused on skills training
for individuals, I think it will be much more successful. And I think it goes to
Ms. Jefferies' points about educating employers.

I think if you look at what we are trying to do with the Chamber, with DOL
VETS,
with ESGR, part of this is education. So we are working on, prior to the hiring
fairs, to talk to employers about why it makes sense for their business to hire
a veteran.

I think you need to go one step further and really have an education campaign
for employers on the tax credits that are out there. But, again, they must be targeted,
and I think they should be focused on individuals that may be lacking specific skill
sets to make the transition to the civilian workforce.

Mr. JACKSON. And I would agree that tax credits would add some incentive. But
I would caution that what is available now is not being used because people just
are not aware of many of the benefits that is available to engaging in hiring veterans.
So I think a tax credit would require an information project along with it to make
sure that everyone is aware of it as well.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much for your comments today.

If any other Members have comments, they can submit them for the record.

I also ask unanimous consent that all Members would have 5 legislative days to
revise and extend their remarks.

Thank you very much for being here.

And while they are leaving the table I would ask the second panel to come forward.

The panel consists of Mr. George Ondick, the Executive Director of AMVETS for
the Department of Ohio; followed by Captain Marshall Hanson, the Director of Legislative
and Military Policy at the Reserve Officers Association (ROA); and, finally, Ms. Heather Ansley, the Co-Chair, Veterans Task Force of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
(CCD).

Thank you all for being here, and we will begin with Mr. Ondick. You are recognized.

STATEMENTS OF GEORGE ONDICK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF OHIO, AMERICAN
VETERANS (AMVETS); CAPTAIN MARSHALL HANSON, USNR (RET.), DIRECTOR, LEGISLATIVE AND
MILITARY POLICY, RESERVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALSO ON BEHALF OF RESERVE
ENLISTED ASSOCIATION; AND HEATHER L. ANSLEY, ESQ., MSW, CO-CHAIR, VETERANS TASK FORCE,
CONSORTIUM FOR CITIZENS WITH DISABILITIES

STATEMENT OF GEORGE ONDICK

Mr. ONDICK. Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and distinguished Members
of the Committee, on behalf of the AMVETS Department of Ohio I would like to thank
you for inviting me here today to share with you our views and recommendations regarding
employment within the veterans community.

AMVETS was founded in order to enhance and safeguard the entitlements of all
American veterans who have served honorably, as well as to improve their quality
of life and that of their families and the communities in which they live. We
do this through leadership, advocacy, and service.

Today, I will be discussing one of the services AMVETS has to offer, the AMVETS
Career Center. The first AMVETS Career Center opened in 2000, and subsequently in
2003 AMVETS Career Centers became an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable
corporation incorporated in Ohio to provide career training employment-related services
to Ohio's veterans.

AMVETS Career Center was initially funded by a $100,000 grant from the State
of Ohio. The grant was used to establish the first AMVETS Career Center at Department
of Ohio AMVETS headquarters in Columbus. Further funding for the Ohio AMVETS Career
Center has been provided through the sale of Charitable Instant Bingo. These tickets
under State law requires that a portion of the sales be donated to a 501(c)(3) organization,
and in this instance the AMVETS Career Center. So far, we have been self-sustaining
and have not yet received any Federal funding to run our program.

The initial concept for the AMVETS Career Center was to provide training and
assistance to returning veterans as they applied for their license and/or certification
for the training that they had received in the military. We soon discovered that
our veterans also needed stopgap training, resume development, interviewing skills,
basic computer skills, and assistance in other vital areas of the overall employment
process.

Moreover, the AMVETS Career Center originally provided this training through
the use of CD-based programs which quickly proved to be cumbersome and inefficient.
We then entered into an agreement with Mindleaders, then the largest provider of
online courses in the United States, to provide AMVETS Career Center with the necessary
courses to assist our veterans. The AMVETS Career Center paid Mindleaders for their
online service platform, thus resulting in our veterans having offsite Internet
access to their desired courses through a Web-based log-in and password to receive
their desired course study.

Currently, the veterans utilizing the AMVETS Career Center have access to
over 300 online Mindleaders courses. Once registered, students may study at a
local career center or any other place that broadband Internet service is available,
including the comfort of their own homes. Veterans pay no out-of-pocket expense
for the courses we offer, since the AMVETS Career Centers feel that the veteran
has already paid the price in service to his country.

The AMVETS Career Center not only provides career services to veterans but also
provides free services to the spouses and children of military personnel who are
deployed outside of Ohio.

We also recognize a very high unemployment rate among the National Guard and
Reserve. So, in response, the AMVETS Career Center chose to initiate the Ohio Veterans
Career Assistance Network, or Vets CAN.

The Ohio Vets CAN is a partnership between the AMVETS Department of Ohio and
the Ohio National Guard. Ohio Vets CAN was created as an online jobs bank where
veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve can link up with employers
who value and support military service to America.

The average cost to the State of Ohio to provide similar services through the
DOL grant is about $1,500 per veteran. This is a sharp contrast to the cost of
services AMVETS Career Centers can deliver for only $250. We believe this is due
to the broad network of volunteers and the partnership and resources uniquely available
to the veteran service community.

And although we have been successful, we do not advertise our program. If we did, our current funding stream would end very quickly. It would be depleted.

With all of the recent discussion of fiscal responsibility and the large success
rate of our participating veterans, the AMVETS Career Center just makes sense.

Chairman Miller, distinguished Members of the Committee, this concludes my testimony.
I would like to again thank you for inviting me to participate in this very important
hearing, and I stand ready to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Ondick appears
in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Ondick.

Captain Hanson, you are next; and thank you very much for attending our roundtable
discussion last week. We appreciate your comments.

STATEMENT OF CAPTAIN MARSHALL HANSON,
USNR (RET.)

Captain HANSON. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Filner, Members of the Committee, thank you
for the opportunity to testify on employment challenges facing today's veterans.

While April brought improvement to veteran unemployment rates, the 18- to 24-year-old
bracket remains high at 26.8 percent, which is about 10 percent higher than that
population as a whole. This group is first-tour veterans returning from active duty. Many remain in the Reserve components rather than leave the military. These
are unique veterans who can be ordered back to active duty.

Three surveys show that between 60 to 70 percent of employers won't hire new
employees who are affiliated with the Guard and Reserve, which is an upward trend.
The risk of a future 1-year call-up discourages many potential employers. This is a violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights
Act, but it can be difficult to prove.

Unemployment rates are even higher for returning units in the Army National Guard,
with the Guard Bureau reporting rates as high as 35 to 45 percent. Florida is a
case study of corrections taken by proactive leadership.

The Guard numbers are high because many returning veterans don't want to go back
to the type of work that they did prior to deployment. Newly acquired skills and
combat experiences can change career ambitions. The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides an
opportunity for veterans to seek new employment paths.

Even though the United States will be winding down its overseas contingency operations,
the Reserve Officers Association sees a trend of veteran unemployment as an ongoing
problem. With plans to keep the Guard and Reserve as an operational force, employers
will continue to be hesitant to lose key employees without positive incentives.

Employers view USERRA as a negative incentive and would like to see positive
encouragement to hire veterans. As employers look to the bottom line, tax credits
or financial grants for hiring veterans is just examples of incentives. Small businesses
are more likely to hire Guard and Reserve veterans if they can afford to hire temporary
replacements during deployments.

The Reserve Officers Association established the Service Members Law Center with
Navy Captain Sam Wright as its Director. This service is provided to all members
of the uniformed services, including active, Reserve, and separated veterans. Sam
receives 500 calls a month from veterans facing legal problems, 80 percent of which
are about employment or reemployment rights. This calculates to about 4,800
calls a year on USERRA issues.

There is no fee service charged to the veteran and demand is growing, but Captain
Wright has reached his personal capacity. ROA would like to expand the law center,
but ROA can only do so much because self-funding is what is maintaining this endeavor.

Even the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve Committee and the Department
of Labor can't handle the number of requests they receive as cases. So most
reemployment cases are being handled by private lawsuit. ROA finds that many veteran
employers do not know their rights of what the law is, as illustrated by the number
of calls that ROA receives. Many veterans do not even know what resources
are available through the ESGR or DOL. So they quietly surrender, simply seeking
work elsewhere.

ROA would like to thank the Committee and its staff for its attention to this
critical issue and looks forward to working with this Committee on improving USERRA
and helping veterans with employment challenges.

I am ready for questions. Thank you.

[The prepared statement of Captain Hanson appears
in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.

Ms. Ansley.

STATEMENT OF HEATHER L. ANSLEY, ESQ., MSW

Ms. ANSLEY. Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and distinguished Members
of the Committee, thank you for inviting the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities,
or CCD, Veterans Task Force to share our views regarding ways to improve employment
opportunities for veterans who are severely disabled.

CCD is a coalition of over 100 national consumer service provider and professional
organizations, which advocates on behalf of people with disabilities and chronic
conditions and their families. The CCD Veterans Task Force works to bring together
the disability and veterans' communities to address the issues that affect veterans
with disabilities as people with disabilities.

Because of the intersection of the disability and veterans' communities that
occurs when a veteran acquires a significant disability, the CCD Veterans Task Force
is uniquely suited to bring both perspectives to issues that cut across programmatic
and policy lines.

The CCD Veterans Task Force believes that meaningful employment represents one
of the best opportunities for veterans with significant disabilities to reintegrate
successfully into their communities. In the most recent study by the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics on employment for veterans with service-connected disabilities,
114,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reported having a service-connected
disability rated at 60 percent or higher. Unfortunately, 41,000 of these veterans
are not participating in the labor force. Among veterans of all eras with a service-connected
disability rated at least 60 percent, workforce participation was 27.9 percent.

Typically, discussions about veterans' employment center on veteran-specific
programs operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Small Business Administration,
or Department of Labor. Veterans with disabilities as people with disabilities who
need employment assistance are also able to turn to programs authorized under the
Workforce Investment Act or, in the case of veterans with significant disabilities,
State vocational rehabilitation agencies and Ticket to Work under Social Security.

Veterans with the highest service-connected disability ratings and veterans on
VA disability pension will likely qualify for State vocational rehabilitation services.
Strengthening the connection between VA's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
(VR&E) program and State vocation rehabilitation services through the Department of Education's
Rehabilitation Services Administration is critical to ensuring that veterans with
disabilities receive the services that they need in order to remain in or return
to the workforce.

Veterans with significant disabilities are often beneficiaries of Social Security
disability insurance. As Social Security disability beneficiaries, veterans are
able to participate in Social Security employment programs such as Ticket to Work,
which allows beneficiaries to purchase vocational rehabilitation services from an
array of providers. Some veterans are dually eligible for Social Security disability
benefits and VA pensions. If these individuals attempt to use Social Security's
work incentives to increase their income, however, not only will their Social Security
disability benefits be terminated but their VA pension benefits are reduced dollar
for dollar.

The CCD Veterans Task Force believes that work incentives for the VA pension
program should be reexamined.

The Workforce Investment Act covers most of the Nation's major employment and
training programs operated through the Department of Labor. Several sections of
the Workforce Investment Act incorporate veterans' employment into its overall mission.
The Workforce Investment Act has been slated for reauthorization since 2003. While
progress has been made, additional changes, as outlined in our written testimony,
are needed to focus on the performance of the entire system.

Although many veterans with disabilities have the skills needed to qualify for
employment opportunities and advance in their careers, barriers to employment continue
to prevent these veterans from receiving opportunities. Veterans with disabilities,
like other people with disabilities, face barriers to employment that include misinformation
about disability and misperceptions about required accommodations. These barriers
must addressed. Otherwise, training opportunities alone will not address the
needs of those veterans who have the most significant disabilities to allow them
to reintegrate into the workforce and contribute to their communities.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to share the CCD Veterans Task Force's views
on improving employment opportunities for severely disabled veterans. This concludes
my testimony, and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

[The prepared statement of Ms. Ansley appears
in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you all for your testimony this morning.

Mr. Hanson, you mentioned that the Reserve Officers Association established the
Service Members Law Centers whose goals are generally to improve understanding
of the
law as it relates to veterans and USERRA and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
Would you agree that the need for a center is an indication of a shortage of attorneys
qualified in veterans' law and the need for law schools to provide courses—more
courses in veteran law?

Captain HANSON. Most definitely, sir. What we are finding out there is
the community as a whole is very hungry to learn more about the USERRA law and the
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. There is basically a lack of proper education
out there.

According to Captain Sam Wright, who has helped write some of this legislation,
the demand is growing. He is actually going to seminars, oftentimes being sponsored
by the American or State Bar Associations, and teaching more about this to
the lawyers directly. And this is one of the purposes of the Law Center, is to
help educate, as well as provide information to the servicemembers themselves.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Ondick, you had said that the Career center system had expanded
to several other States. I am interested in knowing what major impediments may be
there to further expansion beyond those States that have already expanded.

Mr. ONDICK. Mr. Chairman, the AMVETS Career Centers, as you mentioned, are in
New York, Tennessee, and Illinois at this time. Some of the impediments are dollars.
We provide courses at no cost to our veterans. However, we have to pay for those
courses. We set up a program through Mindleaders, and it can be quite expensive.
So some of the determinants are the cost that is involved with providing the courses.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Filner.

Mr. FILNER. Can I yield to Mr. McNerney?

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. McNerney.

Mr. MCNERNEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

You know, first, I just want to make a plug for a bill that we dropped last week,
Hire a Hero Act. I think Mr. Filner is a co-author. And it has several provisions.
One of them is that it is a pilot project to help between the Veterans Administration,
the DoD, and the Department of Labor to identify the barriers to veterans' employment.
It does several other things as well. So I would ask the Chairman to consider
becoming
co-sponsor of that.

Speaking of barriers to employment, Captain Hanson and Ms. Ansley, what do you
think are the biggest barriers that our veterans are facing out there in terms of
getting a job after they get released?

Captain HANSON. Well, I think one thing that this hearing, Congressman, is demonstrating
is the fact that there are a lot of people out there trying to help, which in the
process I think is almost providing an overload of information. And I notice the
Chamber of Commerce in the recommendation for job fairs said they wanted to do it
30 days after the individuals return from deployment. The challenge here is that
a lot of Guard and Reserve members are not ready to think about future careers at
30 days after returning from overseas.

Mr. MCNERNEY. So even 30 days is not enough? I mean, he was saying 30 days after,
as opposed to 30 days before they get back—

Captain HANSON. Well, if you look at the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program
that a lot of States have set up—and I give credit to the National Guard for starting
the programs—they actually bring the people in on 30, 60, and 90-day schedules and
also include the families to participate in these programs. And I think you can't
afford the information overload.

So if an individual is coming back, as was pointed out earlier, they want to
get home quickly. So, oftentimes, they are fatigued, they are not perceptive to
a lot of the information that is being provided. In fact, that is one of the complaints
about TAPS, is that there is almost too much information in too short a time that
is there.

So I think partnering locally in groups is the advisable thing to do but to also
do it at such a time when the member is more receptive to this information.

Mr. MCNERNEY. Would veteran service organizations (VSOs) be qualified or the right contact, do you think, for
that?

Captain HANSON. Well, I think you will find it varies from location to location.
In Ohio, obviously, you see the advantage of AMVETS and what they are working on.
If you go to California, you might find other groups that are the resources to go
to. And it varies depending on membership and who the spark plugs are in informal
leadership within those groups. Many States have an informal military veteran coalition
that meets Statewide, and that is perhaps a level to work at.

But I think it is a partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs, the
VSOs, the military service organizations, the local offices for Department of Labor
that should all get together and kind of coordinate and optimize rather than duplicate
the efforts.

Ms. ANSLEY. Thank you for the question.

I think one of the biggest barriers that we see specifically looking at veterans
with significant disabilities is not only do they have everything that all other
veterans are dealing with when they come back, but they have now acquired perhaps
a significant disability, which is quite a paradigm shift as now you are beginning
to learn what it is like to live with a disability and to look at yourself possibly
as a person with a disability.

People with disabilities in general have very low employment rates. And
some of those barriers do relate to employers not knowing what type of accommodations
they need to provide, would this person be gone a lot because of medical appointments.
There is a whole new layer of issues that have to be dealt with.

We also see the need for more connections between the programs within VA and
making sure we are connecting to programs that are set up for people with disabilities
to make those connections. Because a lot of people do want to reach out to the veteran
who now has a disability, and we have to make that connection easy.

Mr. MCNERNEY. So it is probably a matter of education and training for the employers?

Ms. ANSLEY. Right. That is always something that comes up with employers,
is that—

Mr. MCNERNEY. That is the thing we are hearing a lot this morning.

Ms. ANSLEY. Yes. Helping the veteran to know what his or her rights are now as
a person with a disability. Because they also have the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities
Act, they have other services that are available to them, and to making sure that
they are able to benefit from all of those services and that people are working
together.

Mr. MCNERNEY. Thank you.

One more question. Captain Hanson, you mentioned that USERRA employers view USERRA
as a negative incentive. How would we turn that around and make it into a positive
incentive?

Captain HANSON. Well, from our discussions with employers, I think it is a balancing
act. The structure of USERRA basically says, if you fail to do this, you will be
penalized. And, unfortunately, one thing we are also seeing with USERRA is the fact
that in industry the violation of USERRA is most oftentimes not overt but more subtle,
which is one of the things that through the Law Center we are trying to teach some
of the differences to the people out there and advise the veterans themselves on
when appropriate action can be taken and when something is perhaps not documented
well enough on their side.

But it should also be remembered that the employers have rights as well as the
employee and that this can be one area you can work on and help educate. Because,
as mentioned in our testimony, more times than not it is ignorance that we are facing
on both the part of the employer and the employee, rather than intentional violation
of it. But at the same time they would just like to see some type of incentives
that can be put in place.

I saw last night in your activities, for example, a bill was passed to present
an award to employers who hire veterans. And I think this is a good move because,
like the employers, the part of the Guard and Reserve that have similar awards for
employers that support the Guard and Reserve if you do the positive for the behavior
that is improving it as well as having that negative incentive.

Mr. MCNERNEY. Well, the bill that I was plugging earlier does that. So just thank
you for the plug—additional plug on that.

I am going to yield back.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Filner.

Mr. FILNER. Thank you very much for being here today. We appreciate your testimony.

Mr. Ondick, did you have a comment?

Mr. ONDICK. Yes, I do.

One of the problems that we have is with the United States Department of
Labor Veterans' Employment and Training, the DVOPs/LVER program, where they are
tasked for intensive services only. And in Ohio that meant they serviced about
5,000 veterans. Back in 2009—we have the figures from 2009—they serviced 5,000
veterans. What happened to the other 100,000 veterans that were unemployed? So
that is where we step in as veterans' organizations.

And in an earlier comment by Ranking Member Filner when he talked about the truck
driving, we can get an individual that comes out of the military, we can get him
into—get a CD out and get him a job in 5 days. If we can do it, why can't others? Five days. We did it in 1 day for an individual, but Jupiter had to align with Mars
for that to happen.

There are avenues out there, and we can make things happen with the veterans
organizations that are grassroots. In Ohio, in the AMVETS alone, we have 140 veterans,
AMVETS post in that State.

If you are looking for a network, I think that utilization of the veterans service
organizations that are all over this country in every community, big and small,
would probably be the best way to tackle something and to get to every part of a
State across this country.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much. We appreciate your testimony. You are excused.
Thank you.

I want to welcome our third and final panel this morning to the table.

Major General James Tyre is the Assistant Adjutant General for the Army National
Guard in my home State of Florida. General Tyre has a long, distinguished career
in the National Guard and served 10 years as a noncommissioned officer. Next, we
have Ms. Ruth Fanning, the Director of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs; and, finally, the Honorable Raymond
Jefferson, the Assistant Secretary of the Veterans' Employment and Training Service
of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Thank you all for being here. Thank you for your patience.

General Tyre, we will begin with you. You are recognized.

STATEMENTS OF MAJOR GENERAL JAMES D. TYRE, ARNG, ASSISTANT ADJUTANT GENERAL,
FLORIDA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD; RUTH A. FANNING, DIRECTOR, VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION
AND EMPLOYMENT SERVICE, VETERANS BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS;
AND HON. RAYMOND M. JEFFERSON, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, VETERANS' EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING
SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

STATEMENT OF MAJOR GENERAL JAMES D. TYRE,
ARNG

General TYRE. Good morning, sir.

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, distinguished Members of the Committee,
I am honored to appear before you today on behalf of the Adjutant General of Florida,
Major General Emmett Titshaw, and the 12,000 members of the Florida National Guard.
I welcome the opportunity to illustrate through our story a picture that is common
across most of our States and territories.

Our units are continuing to return home after some of the largest mobilizations
since World War II. These Guardsmen have proudly answered the call but have returned
home to face a different threat, unemployment. Closing businesses, fewer jobs,
and an overall economic decline have contributed to the struggles associated with
redeployment of our forces.

A number of great Federal, State, and private programs exist to assist Guardsmen
transitioning back to civilian life. However, the challenge that remains is finding
or creating a link that joins our unemployed Guardsmen with existing resources and
programs that will result in a viable career.

Unemployment in the Florida National Guard ranges from roughly 14 to 38 percent
across redeploying units. Our surveys have identified over 1,700 soldiers who are
unemployed. This represents 17 percent of the Army National Guard force which largely
redeployed since July of 2010.

One example is the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, our largest redeploying
unit, with locations from Miami to Pensacola that redeployed from Iraq and from
Kuwait this past December with more than 30 percent expressing civilian employment
challenges.

We have also learned that the greatest challenges to employment emerge months
or years after the servicemember returns home. Currently, there is no enduring
program at the local level to address this need.

The Florida National Guard has partnered for many years with large corporations
as well as public and private organizations and programs to address employment issues.
In the fall of 2010, the Adjutant General established the Florida National Guard
Family Career Connection, which joined with Employer Partnership for Armed Services
and Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation to assist our soldiers and our airmen.
Together, we have registered over 450 redeploying soldiers with these agencies and
provided classes on job search, techniques, resume development, and interview preparation.
However, despite these efforts, our Guardsmen continue to experience employment
challenges, and we anticipate more to materialize as we move into the 6- to 24-month
post-deployment window.

While we are proud of the progress that we have made in linking our soldiers
and airmen to employers, there are still some measures that can be taken to improve
our current programs. Developing incentives for employers to seek out and hire Guardsmen
would be an effective enabler for business that currently support the National Guard
as well as those that would like to support but cannot afford to during these tough
economic times. Individual State programs in Texas and Washington State have demonstrated
value but may be at risk for future funding and not available to all States, including
Florida.

We are doing everything we can with other online sources which are available
to assist with translating military experience into civilian skills in connecting
our soldiers and airmen to employers. However, without sustained resourcing, simple
centralized planning, decentralized delivery, and an individually tailored plan,
servicemembers may miss opportunities just for the lack of knowing where to go.

In Florida, we believe a one-stop shop is needed for our soldiers and airmen,
one that integrates these complementary systems and locally ties them to
employers. This one-stop shop would offer transition services to Guardsmen in an
environment that eases the navigation through the numerous resources that
already exist. Our facilities are well suited to house this type of enterprise
because of their local ties to the communities.

Now what I have described all requires resourcing but in the end will pay dividends
through other matrixes. Reserve component servicemembers who are employed are easier
to retain in their respective units and services. We are at the peak of our
readiness, and the cost to replace and train even one servicemember is immeasurable,
particularly because of the institutional knowledge and the experience gained through
a decade of conflict.

As servicemembers redeploy and transition back to civilian life, we want to
embrace them and provide support for full simulation. Addressing the issues of unemployment
is just one means to tackle what has become an issue of resiliency not just for
the National Guard but also for other components and services. A locally embedded
resource that is postured to integrate employers, Guardsmen, and available resources
to eliminate unemployment amongst the servicemembers is critical.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to tell our story;
and I look forward to your questions.

[The prepared statement of General Tyre appears in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, General.

Ms. Fanning, you are recognized.

STATEMENT OF RUTH A. FANNING

Ms. FANNING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and distinguished Members of the Committee,
thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, or VetSuccess, program. I am pleased to
appear before you to discuss the vitally important topic of veterans' employment.

I also want to note that I appreciated the opportunity to hear the dialogue from
the other panels with many of our partners. We are partnering with everyone who
has spoken thus far, except for two associations; and I will be getting in touch
with them right after this hearing.

I wanted to give you an overview of the vocational rehabilitation and employment
program. Over the past 2 years, we have worked to rebrand and market our services
as VetSuccess and to stand up tools for veterans that lead to career success.

The primary mission of our program is to assist veterans with service-connected
disabilities to prepare for and obtain suitable and sustainable careers through
the provision of services that are individually tailored to each veteran's needs.
But, as you will hear throughout my testimony, we have greatly expanded our services;
and we are now providing benefits to veterans who are not disabled who are utilizing
Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

The services that we provide are broad in range and include a comprehensive Web
site designed to connect veterans with employers and to provide that one-stop Web
site that everyone has been talking about this morning. This is a model that can
either become or lead to the national portal, and we are working collaboratively
with the Department of Labor and a number of Federal organizations to look at VetSuccess.gov
and its success, if you will. Also, what else would we need to translate this or
form a national portal?

On the Web site is a military skills translator that assists servicemembers and
veterans to translate their military occupational specialties to civilian careers so that they can build
on their transferrable skills for employment.

We provide direct job placement assistance, short-term training to augment their
skills to increase employability, long-term training including on-the-job
training, apprenticeships,
college training, or services that support self-employment; and for those
veterans
unable to work because of the severity of their disabilities, independent living
services to maximize their independence in their communities.

We provide ongoing case management assistance throughout the rehabilitation programs
to assist with any needs that would interfere with retention and completion to the
point of employment.

Our program begins with a comprehensive evaluation to help veterans identify
and understand their interests, aptitudes, and transferrable skills. Next, we move
to focusing veterans on potential career goals in line with labor market demands,
and we also provide extensive outreach and early intervention services through our
Coming Home to Work Program.

Recently, VR&E Service VetSuccess has launched a transformation project geared
to make our program the premier 21st Century vocational rehabilitation program.
This effort focuses on modernizing and streamlining services using a veteran-centric
approach. Transformation changes include allowing veterans more choice in their
appointment scheduling through automated scheduling, expediting a veteran's entry
into a rehabilitation program by streamlining the front-end process, reducing paperwork
for our counselors so they can spend more one-on-one time with veterans, and we
are also releasing a knowledge management portal which will be a one-stop tool for
our staff around the country so that they have all the resources at their ready
to do their jobs effectively.

Working in collaboration with the VA Secretary's innovation initiative,
called VAi2, Vet Success has engaged in innovative initiatives to build self-employment
incubators and tools, leading to more
veteran-owned businesses in a project of self-management that will allow the most
seriously disabled veterans to work in the career of their choosing and live as
independently as possible.

We are also conducting a VA employee innovation competition to allow the staff
working every day with our veterans to identify additional program enhancements.
We have received 732 ideas from a staff of voc rehab around the country of around
1,100, and we are currently evaluating these to begin implementing the most
promising
in August.

In addition to the employment initiatives I have just mentioned, I would like
to highlight other initiatives that we have ongoing.

Veteran employment is the fundamental mission of our program. In fiscal year
2010, we rehabilitated just over 8,000 veterans in suitable employment and an additional
approximately 2,000 in independent living. Of these, 51 percent were hired
in the private sector and 79 percent were hired in professional, managerial, and
technical programs, earning, on average, $42,000 a year to begin.

Specific initiatives focused on assisting veterans who obtain and maintain suitable
employment consistent with their interests, including employer education, which
has been mentioned and is so important to help the employment community understand
this is a smart business decision; implementation of executive order 1351(a), which
includes working with other government agencies to maximize veteran employment within
government—and about a third of the veterans we place in jobs are in the Federal
Government; and working with the public- and private-sector employers to assist
them to have a better understanding of tax credits, special employer incentives,
and on-the-job training programs available when hiring veterans.

Of course, with the VetSuccess program, which is not only a job board in coordination
with NASWA and
DirectEmployers, we have incorporated not only the Job Central job-board of over
8 million active jobs, but also a job board for employers who want to hire veterans.
As of June, that will be linked with our e-portal, which means veterans, when they
come into our program and are registered through e-portal, employers will know that
they are hiring veterans. It will also allow veterans to have a lot more self-service
options.

Recently, we have ventured into the world of virtual career fairs in addition
to brick-and-mortar career fairs. A partner advertised an upcoming veteran
career fair on the Jumbotron in Times Square. We were really glad to see that kind
of marketing for our program and for this very important career fair.

We have developed the Troops to Counselors initiative, and we plan by 2014 that
60 percent of our counselors will be veteran hires. And we are using the Student
Career Experience Program to bring veterans in and train them while they are in
college toward VA careers.

About 42 percent of our employees around the country are veterans. We are
very committed to hiring veterans; and we are the largest employer of veterans,
aside from DoD. So we are the largest nondefense organization employer of veterans,
I should say.

The VetSuccess.gov Web site has been completely redesigned. It is a one-step
resource for both disabled and able-bodied veterans and family members. The Web
site includes a job board for employers desiring to hire veterans, resume builders,
upload tools that allow veterans to utilize resumes already developed, complete
resources for transition, employer families, success in college, and drill-down
maps so that a veteran can go in and click on his or her city and find the resources
they need in their area.

In conclusion, I would like to say that VA continues to seek new and innovative
ways to assist veterans in achieving their goals for full, productive, and meaningful
lives and careers. We will continue to work with all sectors of government and public
and private employment communities to assist veterans in reaching their highest
potential during this challenging economy.

This concludes my remarks. I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you,
and I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be happy to respond to any questions you
may have.

[The prepared statement of Ms. Fanning appears in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much.

Mr. Jefferson, good to see you.

STATEMENT OF HON. RAYMOND M. JEFFERSON

Mr. JEFFERSON. Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, thank you very much for
giving me this opportunity to be a part of this hearing. I ask my full written testimony
be included as part of the record.

The CHAIRMAN. Without objection.

Mr. JEFFERSON. VETS has the privilege of being the Congressionally mandated lead
agency for veterans' employment. But we can only accomplish this mission by working
with our partners, our partners in government, like VA and Ruth Fanning, Defense,
Office of Personnel Management, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development, our partners in the nonprofit sectors, many of whom are here today,
the veteran services organizations, NASWA, the Society for Human Resources Management,
and our partners in the private sector, specifically, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
the Business Executives for National Security, and the relationship that we are
developing with the Business Roundtable.

We have three primary responsibilities: preparing servicemembers for meaningful
and successful careers, providing access to them, and protecting their employment
rights.

We are going to have a major hearing on TAP tomorrow. Here is what I would like
to leave the Committee with: We have identified the six major problems in TAP, developed
solutions for those, and we are on track to implement the new, completely redesigned
and transformed Transition Assistance Program Employment Workshop by Veterans Day
of this year. That is my goal.

We are also working to link with the Military Spouse Employment Program at DoD
so spouses for the first time will greatly increase their participation in TAP and
their preparedness. There is also going to be a significant element in there on
entrepreneurship.

Providing access, the second major responsibility to meaningful and successful
careers. A lot is happening here. In partnership with the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce and ESGR, we are rolling out 100 mega hiring fairs around the country.

What is a mega hiring fair? It is a hiring fair where there is generally over
100 employers and over 1,000 veterans. We have worked with ESGR to identify where
are those major demobilizations occurring and then doing hiring fairs after the
units have returned. We are also developing a replica model so not only can we have
the hundred mega hiring fairs, but it also can be cascaded into rural America.

We are developing a partnership with SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management,
where for the first time we will be briefing rooms full of hundreds of HR executives
on why to hire a veteran and how to hire a veteran. They have over 250,000 members
who are doing hiring around the country, and we are going to be getting in front
of them for the first time.

We have our State grants program. Let me acknowledge that we need to improve
this program. So for the first time, I believe, in the last decade we have gone
out to solicit feedback on how we can improve, and we are processing that feedback
right now.

This year, one of my goals is to implement a community of practice. This
is one of the 10 leadership breakthrough ideas of 2006. Bottom line, it allows us
to have best practices shared from Florida to California, all around the country.
There is no way for us to do that right now.

The Federal Hiring Initiative. From fiscal year 2009 to 2010, Federal Government
hiring went down by 11,000 people. In the same period of time, veterans hiring
went up by 2,000, from 70,000 to over 72,000. So the Federal Hiring Initiative,
which we are working in partnership with VA, is working.

For those young veterans 20- to 24-years-old, we have the Job Corps pilot. We
are getting very good feedback on that from the young veterans. We have 300 slots.
Once we do proof of concept, we can have more slots allocated; and we are going
to be sending out videos that the young veterans and Job Corps have made talking
about how this is a life-changer. It provides residential, all-expense paid training,
housing, leading to a credential, a job, and 21 months of post-deployment support.

We have our green jobs training through Veterans Workforce Investment Program where we serve 4,600 veterans; our
Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. We have over 14,000 veterans being served
there, with over 8,000 being put into employment. And there is much more.

In terms of protecting veterans' employment rights, I respectfully disagree with
Captain Hanson. We actually feel that we have enough human capital resources on
the ground to handle our load of investigations. We have also done a lean Six Sigma
assessment of what are the best practices relating to timeliness and quality, and
we are implementing those best practices. Basically, a major one is to eliminate
the paper-centric process and automate it, going to electronic case management.

Finally, I will say that none of the great, important things that we are doing
will have the impact that it should unless we engage the media as partners. So,
last year, we worked with Forbes and Fortune Magazine and had articles out on the
value of hiring a veteran. This year, we are working with the entertainment industry,
with the Bob Woodruff Foundation. I was recently told that Businessweek this week
has an article called, "Ready, Aim, Hire," talking about the value of hiring veterans
and how to hire veterans.

We stand enthusiastic to work with this Committee and our other partners to make
progress on this very important, noble errand in getting veterans and servicemembers
back into meaningful and successful careers.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Jefferson appears in the Appendix.]

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much for your testimony.

Mr. Jefferson, you talked about requests for proposals to re-engineer TAP. You
indicated that vendors—in your comments—must use certain books by certain authors;
and if a vendor proposed to use an alternative, the explanation must be given as
to why. What I would be interested in knowing is why or how did you select the books
and did DOL's General Counsel approve of who implicitly, if not explicitly, endorses
these books?

Mr. JEFFERSON. Yes, sir.

First, let me say the actual language I said is content-related to this—either
these books or do a crosswalk to the content.

Prior to being confirmed as an Assistant Secretary here, I have spent the majority
of my life in the leadership development domain. And so what I am asking in the
Request for Proposal (RFP) is we have identified the best practices related to career transition. That
is not just my opinion. That is from identifying who is the best in the Nation,
working with Harvard Business School's Office of Career Transition, working with
West Point's leadership department, working with other key leaders in this area.

So in the TAP RFP ,we have identified what the best practices are, and we have
made those the standard. For example, we have often heard in Congressional hearings
that servicemembers don't know how to transition from the military to a civilian
work environment. How are we going to solve that riddle once and for all? We have
specified in very specific detail what are the elements of that cultural transition.
And so that is an example of what is in the new TAP.

Sir, we have made the standards high. We are hoping we will award that as soon
as possible, and we are on track to have it done by Veterans Day.

The CHAIRMAN. For you and VA both, DoD spends a tremendous amount of money in
recruiting servicemembers. I would be interested in knowing how much money,
if you know, VA and the Department of Labor spend on radio, TV ads to highlight
the positive aspects of hiring veterans and the qualities that they bring to the
Federal workforce or in the private sector.

Ms. FANNING. I don't have the dollar amounts for you today, but I can get those
for you.

[The VA subsequently provided the following information:]

During Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, Vocational Rehabilitation and
Employment Service (VR&E) spent $533,672 on outreach, promotional materials,
and to attend outreach events such as the Society of Human Resource Management
Conference, American Legion Job Fair, and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation,
Inc. In addition, VR&E Service spent $103,828 on branded promotional items to
provide to Veterans and Servicemembers during outreach events (total: $637,500).

In addition, VRE expended $495,000 for maintenance of, and
enhancements to, the VetSuccess.gov Web site. VetSucess.gov is an important marketing
tool that VR&E uses to target Veterans seeking employment and provides resource
information for Servicemembers throughout their transition, preparation for
employment, and post employment.

So far in FY11, approximately $1.13 million has been expended
for outreach materials, events, and the VetSuccess.gov Web site. These outreach
and marketing tools assist Veterans with entering programs or services leading
to employment, developing employer relationships resulting in job opportunities
for Veterans, and assisting Servicemembers and Veterans with all services leading
to career employment.

Also, in FY11, VA's Office of Human Resources and Administration
expended funds for marketing, outreach, and advertising to Veterans that totaled
$128,102 and included the following:

Promotional Materials for Regional Recruiters for distribution:
$22,774

Veterans Acquisition Intern Program (Joint program with OPM to recruit Veterans
in the acquisition career field): $35,000

OPM/VA Veterans Symposium to provide a learning forum to discuss strategies
and issues concerning Veterans employment: $ 50,000

Advertising Materials: $1,015

Outreach (Career Fairs): $19,313

Ms. FANNING. But I can say that we have invested in marketing the program—the
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program—as VetSuccess through a grassroots
campaign at job fairs, at Yellow Ribbon events, at welcome home events anywhere
where veterans and servicemembers are.

We have permanently stationed 13 full-time counselors at primary military treatment
facilities. They are reaching out to these young men and women while they are still
active duty on medical hold.

We are doing everything that we can to get the word out. In our budget request
next year, we have a full marketing package that we have requested to put into place.

First of all, we needed to get VetSuccess.gov up to the point that it was viable
across the security hurdles, across the e-portal hurdles. And we are there. We went
from having 66,000 hits in 2008 to 28 million hits last year and so far this year
over 22 million hits to the site. So veterans recognize our brand. They are coming
to the site.

And we are standing it up and enhancing it as rapidly as we can. I think if you
go to the site today, you will see a different site than was up there 2 weeks ago.
We have uploaded a huge amount of content just in the last 2 weeks.

Mr. JEFFERSON. Sir, I will take that question for the record.

Mr. JEFFERSON. But our strategy has been primarily not to pay for advertising.
We have been going out doing major public speaking engagements, one, for example,
with 10,000 HR executives at the Society for Human Resource Management. That led
to a conversation personally with Steve Forbes where he said he would like to do
something in Forbes Magazine. And he did.

We developed a relationship with the publisher of Fortune Magazine, who expressed
their desire to promote veterans employment. They went ahead and also did coverage
there.

We did not pay for any of those coverages. But I will take it for the record
so I can ensure that I am capturing anything else happening within the Department
of Labor.

But I will say there is tremendous goodwill and interest in the media right now,
and so we are working to leverage that with stories on the value that veterans bring
to the workforce and how employers can access this source of talent.

[The DOL subsequently provided the following
information:]

DOL continues to highlight the positive aspects of hiring
VETS through departmental news releases, speeches, testimony, appearances
and other outreach efforts at the local and national level. However, at this
time the agency does not have any direct budget line item for advertising to
promote the hiring of veterans.

The CHAIRMAN. How about national electronic media or the new social media that
is available out there? Neither one of you even mentioned that.

Mr. JEFFERSON. Sir, I would love to comment on that.

We just brought in an expert for the summer who is working on how we can leverage
new media and social media. We do have some constraints within the Department of
Labor, but we are looking at how we can push this out as far as possible while staying
within all appropriate guidelines.

Ms. FANNING. VA is on Facebook. We are blogging. We are tweeting. I think that
is the correct term. We are looking at maximizing social media.

In addition, as we move forward with the e-portal and have the assurance of secure
connections over the Internet, in Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment specifically,
as well as in our work with the GI Bill through the VetSuccess on Campus program,
we are looking at doing counseling over the Internet through secure methods using
e-chat.

We already are in the process of implementing a program across the country where
we are using technology so that we can provide counseling to veterans using technology
rather than having a veteran drive 100 miles to our office or having a counselor
drive 100 miles to their home when maybe that day they could have seen five
veterans instead of one during that travel time. We are maximizing the use of technology
as much as possible.

Mr. JEFFERSON. Mr. Chairman, I will also acknowledge we are getting tremendous
assistance from NASWA's social media team and the Department of Defense's social
media team. A specific example is we are pushing out videos we have created for
young veterans on the value of our Job Corps pilot, and they are helping us to disseminate
that as well.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.

Mr. Filner.

Mr. FILNER. Thank you.

Do we now have any mandates for Federal hiring or Federal contracting of veterans?

Mr. JEFFERSON. For Federal hiring, we have the Federal Hiring Initiative, where
each agency has developed goals. As an initiative, it is succeeding, and we are
achieving those goals, and we have hired more veterans than we have the previous
year. So the Federal Hiring Initiative is very successful.

Because the contracting comes under OFCCP, I would like to take that for the
record and involve that agency in answering that question.

Ms. FANNING. And I would just like to say that with the Presidential Executive
Order 13-518, each agency and department has goals for increased veteran hiring.

In regard to the use of contracting with small disabled veteran-owned businesses
or veteran-owned businesses, I know that VA has goals. But I will take it for the
record to determine what kind of laws are in place governing specific mandates.

[The VA subsequently provided the following information:]

There are no laws requiring the hiring of veterans for contracts.
The existing laws (Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972 (38 U.S.C.
4211 and 4212) and the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998, Public
Law 105-339), as implemented by the Federal Acquisition Regulations in Subpart
22.13, encourage the hiring of veterans and require contractors who are subject
to the reporting requirements to file annual reports on the number of veterans
employed.

38 U.S.C. 8127(d) does require VA to set aside contracts for
award to small businesses verified as owned and controlled by veterans if there
is an expectation that at least two such offerors will submit offers and the
award can be made at a reasonable price. However, those conditions must be met
before a contract is required to be set-aside for a veteran -owned and controlled
small business. See also 38 CFR 74.

Mr. FILNER. Everywhere I go—I go up to Camp Pendleton in San Diego, and they have a $6 billion
construction program. You go downtown, there is a $250 million court project. You
go down to the border, there is a $600 million building.

I talk to the general contractors, and they don't seem to know about any of these
goals to hire veterans. Oh, yes, we have outreach, but I don't see any number. I don't see any results. I don't see any tangible proof that they are doing anything.
Yet here we have enormous power, the Federal Government, to do the hiring; and I
am not sure we are doing what we can.

I would like some suggestions on what we should do. I would mandate, rather than
set goals.

You talk to the agency and they say, well, the general contractor has it, and
we have goals in our RFPs. But they are never translated into the actual contract,
and the general contractors don't seem to have any sense—well, I retract that. It
depends on the individuals and their own sensitivities and their own sensibilities
and their own senses. But nothing mandated that they feel they have to respond to.

Ms. FANNING. Well, having just participated in a large acquisition for the Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment program, I can say that I was witness to the Office
of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction in VA during the pre-proposal conference
for all interested bidders. And there were a number of set-aside regions throughout
the country for veteran-owned and small veteran-owned businesses. They also very
thoroughly reviewed with the group partnering and subcontracting arrangements that
could be made and encouraged interested vendors to work with small Veteran-owned
businesses.

Are we completely there? I don't know.

Mr. FILNER. But they are all voluntary, aren't they? Is anybody ever penalized
for not meeting them and not giving the next contract? I mean, I don't hear—

Mr. JEFFERSON. First, there are two things which we are talking about.

The first is the Federal Government hiring. On that, we are tracking for the
people who are being brought in as civil servants. So we are tracking that. That
one is succeeding, and all that information is available very transparently. We
have a new director at the Department of Labor at OFCCP, Office of Federal Contract
Compliance Policy, and she is doing a lot to bring a lot more teeth into this effort.

So I would like to take that for the record, because I know she is taking a lot
of actions to make this a much more effective and relevant policy.

Mr. FILNER. The last testimony I have seen said they haven't penalized anyone
for the last 5 years.

Mr. JEFFERSON. Sir, I would like to make sure that we have a fact basis for that.
Her name is Pat Shiu. I have met with her.

Mr. FILNER. If they haven't done anything in terms of penalties, then nobody
takes them seriously.

Mr. JEFFERSON. I actually know that she is putting penalties out. But what I
would like to do is give you the facts so—

Mr. FILNER. Again, penalties against—what are the laws that they are required
to follow? Or what efforts? Again, it seems all voluntary. It seems it's just all
goals to meet. There is a difference that's almost based on personality or the company
itself in what they are really doing.

Mr. JEFFERSON. Yes, sir.

[The DOL subsequently provided the following
information:]

QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD
Patricia A. Shiu, Director
Office of Federal Contract Compliance
Programs
U.S. Department of Labor

Chairman
Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and distinguished Members of the Committee,
thank you for the opportunity to present additional information on behalf of the
Department of Labor (DOL or Department).

On
June 1, 2011, U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans' Employment and Training
Service (VETS) testified before the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. In the
course of that hearing, Rep. Filner asked several questions about programs that
were not within the purview of VETS, but of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance
Programs (OFCCP), also in DOL. I am pleased to provide these responses to your
questions pertaining to OFCCP.

Rep. Filner: Do we now
have any mandates for Federal hiring or Federal contracting of veterans?

Response:
Yes. Your
question raises two issues: hiring by the Federal government, and hiring by
entities that have contracts with the Federal government.

With regard to hiring by the Federal
government, 5 U.S.C. § 2108 provides veterans who are disabled or who serve on
active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in
military campaigns a preference (10 points for disabled veterans, 5 points for
non-disabled veterans) over non-veterans both in Federal hiring practices and
in retention during reductions in force (RIF).

The requirements for hiring of Veterans
by federal contractors[1] (as opposed to
by the Federal government) are set forth in the Vietnam Era Veterans'
Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), 38 U.S.C. 4212. OFCCP enforces
Section 4212(a)(1) of VEVRAA, which prohibits federal contractors and
subcontractors (hereafter, “contractors”) from discriminating against specified
categories of veterans and requires contractors to take affirmative action to
employ, and advance in employment, those veterans. Contractors must develop
written programs detailing the actions that they are taking for this purpose
and make the plans available when requested in a compliance evaluation or
complaint investigation. OFCCP also enforces VEVRAA Section 4212(a)(2)(A),
which requires that contractors list their job openings with the appropriate
employment service. Additionally, while VEVRAA does not include a hiring
preference for veterans as there is in Federal government hiring, VEVRAA does
require that covered veterans receive priority in referral from the
employment services to federal contractors for the openings they list.

Rep. Filner: But, they are
all voluntary, aren't they?

Response:
No, the VEVRAA
requirements are not voluntary; they are required of covered federal
contractors.[2]

Rep. Filner:
I
s anybody
ever penalized for not meeting them and not giving the next contract?

Response:
Yes, contractors
are penalized for not meeting VEVRAA requirements. VEVRAA provides a range of
options for such situations, from remedying the violations all the way to
debarring contractors from future contracts. At a minimum, when there is a
finding of discrimination against a protected veteran, the contractor is
required to provide back-pay and other make-whole remedies and to change its
practices going forward.  In the vast majority of cases, it is not
necessary to take contractors to administrative enforcement proceedings; our
efforts to conciliate the issues are generally sufficient.

Rep.
Filner
: The last testimony I have said [OFCCP] hadn't penalized anyone for the last
five years

Response:
OFCCP conducts
compliance evaluations of an average of approximately 4,000 neutrally selected
contractors each year. Under the Obama administration so far, OFCCP has
recovered $25 million in back wages and nearly 4,200 job
opportunities
on behalf of more than 42,000 victims of
discrimination. The agency has evaluated almost 12,000 businesses that,
collectively, employ over 4.2 million workers. We review VEVRAA
compliance in every evaluation in which a contractor met the VEVRAA
minimum coverage requirements.

I
was delighted that these reviews did not uncover many VEVRAA violations. In FY 2009,
after OFCCP conducted on-site reviews of their establishments, 54 contractors
were cited for recruitment violations impacting veterans, including failure to
comply with mandatory obligations to post job listings, conduct outreach, and
fulfill other requirements.  In FY 2010, that number rose to 92
contractors that were cited for recruitment violations pertaining to protected
veterans.  OFCCP negotiated conciliation agreements in all these cases to
correct the violations. Many, if not most, of these settlement agreements
included linkage provisions in which contractors commit to partner with specified
local job training programs, veterans' organizations, and other community
groups, in order to identify and recruit covered veterans and people with
disabilities better.

OFCCP
also investigates complaints of discrimination filed by veterans. In FY 2009
and FY 2010 (combined), OFCCP investigated 76 veterans' complaints, which
accounted for 50 percent of the 179 complaints investigated in those years. VEVRAA violations were found in 14 percent of these
investigations.[3] 
In all but one of those in which a violation was found, OFCCP reached a financial
agreement with the contractor that resulted in compensation for the
veterans involved. (The case in which no financial
agreement was reached involved recordkeeping and recruitment violations that
did not affect employees' compensation).

Rather than simply accepting
contractors' self-reporting (as has been done too often in the past), we are
now requiring our compliance officers, when conducting an on-site review, to
verify how contractors are treating protected veterans and people with
disabilities and whether they are providing reasonable accommodations to their
workers as required by law, as well as to confirm the existence and
implementation of required affirmative action programs. Our investigative procedures
during on-site investigations also include verification that the contractor is
listing job openings with the appropriate employment service delivery system(s)
so that veterans may be given priority in referral. I have made it very clear
to our compliance officers that they must verify compliance with these posting
requirements during their evaluations of contracting establishments. 

Rep. Filner: Again,
penalties against—what are the laws that they are required followed, or what
efforts? Again it seems all voluntary. It seems it's just all goals to meet. There is a difference that's almost based on personality or the company itself
in what they are really doing.

Response: This question
appears directed at how contractors' efforts to employ more veterans are
measured and enforced. As noted above, the primary OFCCP enforcement
mechanisms are compliance evaluations and complaints. The framework
articulating a contractor's responsibilities with respect to affirmative
action, recruitment, and placement, and the measures by which its compliance
will be assessed, are set forth in our regulations (41 CFR Parts 60-250 and
60-300).

OFCCP's VEVRAA regulations have remained
unchanged since the implementing rules were first published in 1976.
Meanwhile, increasing numbers of veterans are returning from tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places around the world, and many are faced with substantial obstacles
in finding employment upon leaving the service.

To make our VEVRAA program more effective
in increasing employment opportunities for returning veterans, in April of this
year we published proposed revisions to the regulations that go directly to
your concerns about measurement and accountability. The proposed rule would increase
the responsibilities of Federal contractors and subcontractors by, inter
alia
:

  • Requiring
    contractors to establish linkage agreements with at least three veterans
    employment service organizations, to bolster contractors' recruitment efforts
    and increase the number of veterans who are aware of, and subsequently apply
    for, openings with federal contractors.
  • Requiring
    contractors to conduct more substantive analyses of recruitment and placement
    actions taken under VEVRAA.
  • Revising
    recordkeeping requirements to help contractors evaluate and tailor their
    recruitment and outreach efforts, and establish the hiring benchmarks proposed
    in the NPRM.
  • Requiring
    contractors, for the first time, to establish annual hiring benchmarks. These
    benchmarks are expressed as the percentage of total hires who are protected
    veterans that a contractor will seek to hire the following year. By using
    benchmarks, contractors have a quantifiable measure for gauging their success
    in recruiting and employing protected veterans.
  • Requiring
    contractors to invite applicants to self-identify at both the pre-offer and
    post-offer stages of the hiring process. As proposed, prior to an offer of
    employment, the contractor is required to invite all applicants for employment
    to self-identify as a “protected veteran.” This allows the contractor and OFCCP to identify and monitor the contractor's employment practices with
    respect to protected veterans.

The comment
period for this proposed regulation closed on July 11, 2011, and we are in the
process of reviewing the comments in preparation for issuing a final rule.



[1]
Coverage of contractors and veterans varies according to when the contract was entered into. For contracts entered into before December 1, 2003, the contract dollar threshold is $25,000, and the veterans covered are: (1) special disabled veterans; (2) veterans of the Vietnam era; (3) veterans who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; and (4) veterans separated from the service within the previous year. For contracts entered into on or after December 1, 2003, the contract dollar threshold is $100,000, and the veterans covered are: (1) disabled veterans; (2) veterans who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; (3) veterans who, while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces, participated in a United States military operation for which an Armed Forces service medal was awarded pursuant to Executive Order No. 12985; and (4) veterans separated from the service within the previous
3 years.

[2] Other VEVRAA provisions (not
enforced by OFCCP) establish certain priority job referrals for veterans
seeking employment and require federal contractors to report the number of
employees who are covered veterans on annual VETS-100 and VETS-100A reports.
In addition, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of
1994 (USERRA) generally requires all covered employers, including federal
contractors and subcontractors, to reinstate veterans whose cumulative period
of military service does not exceed five years, to the job that they would have
attained had they not been absent for military service.

[3] Violations were
not found for a number of reasons, including untimeliness of the complaint,
lack of a federal contract or subcontract that would confer jurisdiction on
OFCCP, the fact that the complainant did not fall within the classes of
veterans protected under VEVRAA, and a (not uncommon) misapprehension among
veterans that the federal government's “veterans' preference” guarantees
veterans jobs in private companies.

Mr. FILNER. It is very frustrating for a Marine base to have $6 billion worth
of contracts and my veterans community goes up there and they don't find any of
their comrades working. That is very frustrating when it is your own government
that is doing this.

Ms. FANNING. Mr. Filner, I will also take that back to our Office of Acquisition,
Logistics, and Contracting.

But I did want to mention, as I briefly did in my opening remarks, that Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment as well as the GI Bill, encourages entrepreneurship.
And we are working to help more veterans start and own their own businesses. We
know that small business is the backbone of our American economy. I was just in
Chicago last week speaking to a group of small business owners, and I was inundated
after my talk, which was about the benefits of hiring veterans and the incentives
to hire Veterans, with employers wanting to know more about how to advertise their
jobs on VetSuccess.gov. One particular employer told me, give me 50 veterans
with bachelors degrees, and I will train them to do the work that I need them to
do.

So we are working aggressively to get the word out. And I think that is one of
our biggest challenges, as many have mentioned this morning—

Mr. FILNER. If I may ask the Adjutant General, we have heard testimony today—and,
of course, we know about the reluctance of many employers to even follow the law
in terms of your own men and women, so what do we do about that? It was suggested
that we have some incentives there.

General TYRE. Number one, we utilize ESGR to follow through with those complaints.
I will tell you in Florida over the last year, we have been able to resolve 77 of
those issues, and we still have three remaining. But utilize that.

We also use other things to where we don't get into that issue. We will do boss
lifts with these employers. We invite them to pre-deployment training right there
at Camp Blanding or at one of the other power projection platforms.

But just take a proactive approach with their employers and let them know right
up front that our soldiers are going to be downrange for 12 months, 13 months before
they get back to them. But, again, just taking a proactive approach seems
to work for us.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Stutzman.

Mr. STUTZMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you for being here today. It is good to see you. I appreciate what you
are doing and trying to accomplish, and I know we all have our veterans at heart
here and want to make sure that especially those that are unemployed and are wanting
to find work can. We can be as helpful as we can.

I guess my question would be to Secretary Jefferson. Are you happy with the level
of performance for the Jobs for Veterans State Grant program? If you could comment
about that and what you are seeing as far as the success and where we can do better.

Mr. JEFFERSON. Sir, I think my staff would tell you I am rarely satisfied with
the performance and always wanting to do better. Let me drill down specifically
on the Jobs for Veterans State Grants (JVSG) program.

Since being confirmed, one of the first questions I had is how can this program
be improved. As I looked around, there was no real data, there was no real feedback
in recent years that we can use to make evidence-based decisions. So at the last
HVAC hearing that we had, I initiated a structured dialogue with all the veterans
employment coordinators around the Nation to get feedback on what is working, what
is not, what are the employment opportunities. We are going ahead and analyzing
that feedback right now.

Simultaneously, without waiting, we are implementing a best practice called the
Community of Practice. This came out of Iraq and Afghanistan in the Army, something
called CompanyCommand.com. We are using that model. Basically, it is for a
community of practitioners to share best practices over large geographical areas.
So we are working to implement that this year.

On the so-what factor, it will make sure that a DVOP or LVER who is highly performing
in one State can share those practices and approaches that he or she has all throughout
the Nation. And then, once we get the feedback from the veterans' coordinators,
I will be taking other actions to improve that program.

It is very valuable to have 2,000 employment representatives around the Nation,
but I want to make sure we are continuing to up-skill them and ensure that they
have the latest approaches and techniques to be as effective as possibly.

Mr. STUTZMAN. Could you share just some of the best practices that you are talking
about, just to give us a better idea and a sense of what—

Mr. JEFFERSON. I would say we take three major questions that you may ask a local
veterans' employment representative: What are you doing to mobilize your local community
of employers? What types of outreach are you engaging in? Or let's take a DVOP.
You have a veteran who is very physically challenged, and you have some employers
who are interested in giving that veteran an opportunity but he or she maybe has
questions or concerns on traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress (PTS),
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). How do you deal with that?

Well, one solution that we have is the American Heroes at Work program that educates
employers on the accommodations that veterans with PTS, PTSD, or TBI have. A very
highly regarded program. Are all employment representatives using it? Are they all
aware of it? Also, mentoring and coaching. So a new DVOP or LVER in one part
of the country can work with someone who may be in a different locale but who is
known as being a thought leader, a very effective employment representative.

So we want to get that community of practice, of mentoring, coaching, and sharing
techniques. And the questions actually come from the participants. So they put up
what they need help with and their peers provide answers. It was one of the top
10 breakthrough ideas out of 2006 Harvard Business Review, came out of the Army
and combat, and now they are using it for the four-star General officers. They are
creating a community of practice for them, and that individual is going to be advising
us on our community of practice—Nate Allen.

Mr. STUTZMAN. General Tyre, do you have any comments regarding the programs?

General TYRE. We have talked about leveraging technology and all the programs
that are out there. It is difficult for a soldier, airman to look at all those programs
and figure out which one is going to benefit him, which one is going to get him
a job. They are all great programs, and they all add value to the issue. But
unless we get someone to follow along with that soldier, to be there with him until
he gets a job, that one-on-one personal contact until he gets a job, we are not
following through with meeting the requirements of our soldiers. It takes that personal
contact, that counseling, that is going to get a soldier to a job and to a career.

Mr. STUTZMAN. Go ahead.

Mr. JEFFERSON. So there is the high-touch approach for those veterans who are
already out in the community. And then with the new transformed, redesigned TAP
we have peer support techniques in there. We have entrepreneurship content in there. And we have connectivity to employer representatives in there as well. So we want
to streamline that information flow.

I know when I was coming out it was frustrating and annoying, frankly. But we are taking action, and my goal is to have a lot of these initiatives done
by Veterans' Day this year.

Mr. STUTZMAN. Thank you.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much.

General, you had talked about a 30 percent unemployment rate among Guardsmen
with the 53rd Infantry Brigade and 17 percent, I think it was, among all members
of the Florida National Guard. In your conversation with other leaders of other
Guards from other States, do you think Florida's rates are unique or are they consistent
with those other States?

General TYRE. Sir, they are fairly consistent with other States. We will find
some brigades like Iowa that are coming back and redeploying from downrange that
might be a little bit higher. I know in Washington State when they brought the 81st
back, they were a little bit higher than ours, but not much higher. The normal is
somewhere between 30 and 35 percent from the BCTs, the brigade combat teams, that
we have talked with.

The CHAIRMAN. For the record, because I don't think you are going to be able
to answer the question—you may be able to—but it is my understanding the Midwestern
Governors Association gave a proposal for the Employment and Training Administration
for $170,000 to work on the issue of licensing and credentialing that we have discussed
here today, but Labor refused to fund it because they don't do sole source contracts.
Are you aware of that? If not—

Mr. JEFFERSON. Sir, I will take it for the record.

Let me give the high-level overview. We have that unsolicited proposal.
I know it is being reviewed. We care very deeply about making progress on the issue
of credentialing and licensing. The American Legion is going to be having a summit
later this year. We are going to be participating at that. I understand that that
planning has just begun to get under way, and I am sure many partners who are in
the room today will be associated with that. But I would take the actual details
of your question for the record.

[The DOL subsequently provided the following
information:]

U.S. Department of Labor

Employment and Training
Administration
Washington, DC.

March 21, 2011

Mr. Jesse
Heier

Midwestern Governors Association

2025 M Street, NW

Suite 800

Washington, DC 20036

Dear Mr. Heier:

Thank you
for your proposal to the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), entitled
Veterans Credentialing Initiative, which was forwarded to the Office of Policy Development and
Research for review. ETA appreciates the importance of the
transferability of training standards and
credentials, and how it affects service members as they transfer out of the military into the civilian work force. We have carefully reviewed your
proposal to increase the number of States in the Midwest
that have reciprocity agreements for endorsing occupational licensing
among States and with the military
branches.

The vast majority of
grants for activities such as
this one proposed by the Midwestern Governors Association, are awarded on a competitive
basis in response to a solicitation for grant
application. Since many aspects of the
Midwestern Governors Association proposal are not unique
and do not offer new and exceptional techniques, but
rather propose to support discussions of
interstate credentialing, there
is no basis to support a non-competitive funding decision.

Although
ETA is not in a position to fund this proposal, we
would invite you to closely monitor the ETA Web site
(www.doleta.gov/grants) and www.grants.gov for future grant funding
opportunities.

While we receive many
unsolicited proposals, very few obtain funding, Our budgetary
resources are rather limited and
are primarily used to support the competitive procurements mentioned
above.

Thank
you for your interest in the public workforce system.

Sincerely,

Michael S. Jones
Acting Administrator
Office of Policy Development and Research

The CHAIRMAN. Very well.

Any other comments?

We thank you very much for your testimony and, again, your patience.

Again, this Committee is fully committed to helping those veterans who want jobs,
who need jobs, find jobs and have gainful employment. Because, after all, they have
serviced and sacrificed for this country. Jobs is number one. This Committee is
committed to working in that direction.

All Members will have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and
submit questions for the record.

With no further comments, this hearing is adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 12:31 p.m., the Committee was adjourned.]


APPENDIX


Prepared Statement of Hon. Jeff
Miller, Chairman, Full Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Good morning everyone. Thank you for being here. Our hearing today, “Putting
America's Veterans Back to Work,” is one of the most important ones we'll have this
Congress and that is why I have decided to proceed with this hearing even though
many of the Members on our side of the aisle are meeting with President Obama this
morning. Just last week I, and other Committee Members, met with dozens of veterans'
organizations who were nearly unanimous in making jobs for veterans their number
one priority. I couldn't agree more.

Lengthy unemployment can cause an unbelievable amount of strain. Bills don't
get paid, savings can be exhausted, and family needs have to be put on hold. The
financial strain of not having meaningful employment has a cascading effect for
many…family problems, declining mental health, homelessness…we've got to get the
economy going again to put Americans back to work, especially those who have protected
our freedom to work in the first place.

Growing the economy starts with the fundamentals: keeping taxes on small businesses
low, which necessarily means holding Federal spending down; reducing burdensome
and unnecessary regulations that increase costs to small businesses; and ensuring
we have a trained, skilled workforce ready for 21st Century jobs in a
21st Century economy.

It is this third area—ensuring a trained, skilled workforce—that the Veterans'
Affairs Committee is primed to lead. There are a number of programs run by VA
and the Department of Labor that have the potential to help. Our task is to see
if those programs, as designed, are effective.

Our responsibility is to modernize them to respond to the specific needs that
exist for unemployed or underemployed veterans in our economy.

Let me highlight a few areas where I think we need improvement.

First, the unemployment rate among all veterans of the Global War on Terror
has been reported to be as high as 13.1 percent. This high rate exists despite
the fact that Transition Assistance Programs for separating servicemembers looking
for work are available, as are Federally-funded veterans employment specialists
within every State. We need to look at these programs anew to see how they can
be improved.

Second, training and education benefits through the new Post-9/11 GI Bill and
other programs are valuable tools for veterans. However, as currently designed,
they do little good for middle-aged veterans far removed from military service who
may need new skills to break out of unemployment. To highlight the point I'm making,
on May 2, the Conference Board released its data showing there are nearly 4.5 million
jobs advertised on the Internet. The Board's data also show the top 10 career
fields with a heavy presence of jobs requiring hard skills.

To me, this shows that good jobs are out there, we just need to retool the programs
we have to help our veterans compete for them.

Finally, there are legal protections for Guardsmen and Reservists who left work
to fight for our country. By law, they are entitled to have or go back to their
jobs when they come home. We need to be aggressive in enforcement of this law.

And just one more thing, we need to have a better understanding of the demographics
of unemployed veterans. Things like education levels, lengths of unemployment,
skills learned in the military, just to name a few. We will hear some of that from
our witness from BLS but I believe it is time to expand the facts we know about
unemployed veterans.

As a beginning, I hope that today's witnesses can provide some insight into
what we can do to help veterans get the jobs they want and deserve.

I have some ideas of my own, so, to get the ball rolling, I will soon introduce
a new jobs bill for veterans. The principles of my bill are simple:

  1. We need to provide a meaningful retraining program for our older veterans
    who make up two-thirds of all unemployed veterans;
  2. We need to ensure Transition Assistance Programs for our younger veterans
    are effective and, just as important, utilized when they separate from the military;
  3. We need to add flexibility and accountability to Federally-funded job training
    programs; and
  4. We need to ensure we have updated legal protections for veterans who
    want their jobs back on their return from active duty, and we must do better
    enforcing those protections.

I know Members will have other ideas as we go forward, but—keeping in line with
the theme of this hearing—I'm anxious to roll up my sleeves and get to work. As with any work, we need to set goals and let me tell you what my goal is.

I believe that an unemployment rate of between four and five percent is generally
accepted to be full employment. So, I want to begin today's hearing by setting
a goal to reduce unemployment among veterans from its current level of 7.7 percent
down to about 4.5 percent. That means, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' April
data, we need to reduce the number of unemployed veterans from April's 873,000 down
to around 470,000 or a reduction of about 400,000 veterans. I think we can do
that and I invite every Member of the Committee to join me in achieving that
goal; not overnight, but over the next year or 2 at the outside.

I now recognize the Ranking Member for his opening remarks.


Prepared Statement of Hon. Bob
Filner, Ranking Democratic Member, Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The need to increase opportunities for veterans is
now more important than ever. A growing number of servicemembers are returning
home to find that securing and retaining their employment has become difficult.

With their civilian counterparts facing the same struggles in today's
economy, it can become difficult and frustrating for servicemembers who have
been away for months to compete with their civilian counterparts.

 I remain concerned for our returning servicemembers that economic problems
they face may lead to depression and other problems.

For veterans 18-24 years old, this struggle is greater as many of them join the
military right out of high school with little to no work experience.

Since the 110th Congress we have reviewed barriers to employment,
discussed hiring authorities, and learn about possible causes to high
unemployment rates among younger veterans and female veterans.

However, the common feedback that we get is that veterans lack transferable skills,
employers violate the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights
Act
(USERRA), and employer's misperceptions that returning
servicemembers
have mental health problems.

Our veterans are the most loyal and dedicated individuals. They have leadership
experience, and a track record of working well under pressure and punctuality. Any employer should be proud to have such hard working employees.

In May 2010 I held an employment roundtable that included employers: from the
civilian sector, private sector, Federal agencies, and veteran service organizations. The roundtable helped us understand why potential employers were not hiring veterans. Some highlighted simple problems such as résumé deficiencies, or in extreme cases—a lack of transferable skills. This was an invaluable roundtable in which I
felt we made progress in better understanding the problem.

I look forward to the testimony from all of our witnesses here today.

Thank you Mr. Chairman, I yield back.


Prepared Statement of Hon.
Gus M. Bilirakis

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, thank you for calling this timely hearing
on putting our veterans back to work. Our Nation's veterans have made great sacrifices
to keep us safe. During their service in the military they have been trained with
important skills. In addition to dedication, hard work, and loyalty, many have
gained technical and leadership skills that are transferrable and beneficial to
the civilian workforce. I am particularly concerned that a stigma exists
in the private sector that is contrary to the qualities these men and women have
to offer to the civilian workforce.

The Federal Government has made significant investments in our servicemembers'
training, and it is critical that these men and women have the resources they need
to successfully transfer their skill sets and continue contributing to society. We must ensure that warriors are not discriminated upon because of the wounds they
suffer—be they physical or psychological - as a result of our Nation's wars. I look forward to using this hearing as a building block to develop ways to break
down barriers to veterans' employment and foster their opportunities.


Prepared Statement of Hon. John
Barrow

Thank you Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Filner for holding this hearing.

 The employment challenges facing veterans are very real. The call to service
does not always fit into a convenient schedule of job training. Often our
servicemembers halt education and training opportunities to serve in combat. Today, they
return as veterans to a daunting job market. This can be especially difficult for
wounded warriors, who have additional challenges in every aspect of life.

During the last district work week I had the opportunity to tour a facility in
Vidalia, GA called the HARP Foundation. The HARP Foundation offers transitional
housing and resources for homeless veterans. In particular, they help veterans
find sustainable employment opportunities. Their goal is to provide mental health
counseling and job training to the veterans in their own area. When veterans do
find jobs, the HARP Foundation tries to help them find adequate transportation
so they can keep their jobs in their local community.

I look forward to hearing about ways the Department of Veterans Affairs and the
Department of Labor can work to make the systemic changes to lower unemployment
for veterans across the country. But I also would like to hear practical ways the
Federal Government can work with and help grass roots organizations, like the HARP
Foundation, to help veterans find good jobs in our local communities.


Prepared Statement of Hon.
Russ Carnahan

Chairman Miller, Chairman Murray, Ranking Member Filner, thank you for hosting
this hearing to discuss the important issue of putting America's veterans back to
work.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that in March and April of this year
about 27 percent of veterans between 20 to 24 years of age were unemployed. Other
sources show it to even be higher. These are truly disheartening numbers. After
fighting to protect our country, we must make certain that our brave veterans are
able to obtain a livelihood after returning from service.

In this tough economy, jobs are hard to come by, particularly for newly returned
veterans. Our young returning combat soldiers, and those severely injured during
military service have the hardest time securing employment following military
service.

It is vitally important to ensure that our returning veterans are able to secure
and maintain employment after returning to civilian life. Not only does employment
offer salary and benefits, employment also provides an important sense of purpose
and aides in the transition from military to civilian life. We in Congress must
work with relevant stakeholders to guarantee that opportunities exist for our veterans
to obtain gainful and meaningful employment.

Today's hearing provides a dialogue between Congress and those with intimate
knowledge of what needs to be done to get our veterans back to work upon their return
from military service. Whether it is through job training or career counseling,
we must allow access to services that prepare our veterans for careers outside of
the military, and assist them as they transition to a world that is increasingly
unfamiliar with the ways of the military. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses
on ways we can begin to reduce employment and underemployment amongst or veterans.


Prepared Statement of Richard
A. Hobbie, Executive Director, National Association of State Workforce Agencies

NASWA is pleased to respond to the request for comments by the House Committee
on Veterans' Affairs on the issue of “Putting America's Veterans Back to Work.” The members of our Association are State leaders of the publicly-funded workforce
development system vital to meeting the employment needs of veterans. This is accomplished
through the Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program and the Local Veterans' Employment
Representatives programs, and other programs and initiatives offered through the
broader workforce development system. Our testimony includes the following points:

  • The workforce development system provides services to all unemployed
    workers and jobseekers and maintains a substantial focus on serving the
    needs of veterans. The system, because of limited funding, serves as many
    individuals as possible by providing tools for customers to help themselves
    without significant staff assistance.
  • A vital component of our member's service to veterans is to ensure a viable
    labor exchange exists and is readily available to veterans, employers and those
    who will help them in their efforts. NASWA does this in partnership with DirectEmployers
    Association (DE) through the National Labor Exchange (NLX).
  • The NLX is an automated initiative operating on the Internet. It aims to
    collect all verifiable job openings in the country and share those job openings
    at no cost with State workforce agencies and job seekers. The jobs are verified
    to help job seekers avoid scams, such as identify theft schemes or false promises
    of high earnings for working at home.
  • Providing sufficient services to veterans, while a priority of our system,
    is a challenge. Unemployment remains high, and nominal resources available
    to our members have been reduced recently and in the case of the Employment
    Service (ES) have been unchanged for almost 30 years.
  • Beyond decreasing real funding as an obstacle in serving veterans, there
    are many other critical obstacles affecting veterans' employment opportunities
    including: (1) Credentialing—the inability for veterans to
    provide formal civilian credentials and certifications, even though they might
    have received equivalent training while in the military; (2) Inability
    to identify where veterans with certain skills are located -  there is no
    reliable nationwide information source identifying where employers with specific
    needs should focus veteran recruitment efforts; (3)  Identifying the
    right online resource for veterans hiring—Employers say there is confusion
    over the proliferation of web sites and services aiming to facilitate veterans'
    employment; (4) Translating Military Occupational Classification to
    civilian jobs - many veterans have difficulty  “translating” military
    skills and experiences into the civilian world; (5) UI Reemployment
    and Connectivity—The advent of remote claims taking technology has enabled
    States to offer UI claims services either online or via telephone, disrupting
    the connection of the UI claimant from the workforce system; and, (6) USDOL
    Regulations—OFFCP has proposed regulations that will make
    Federal contractors'
    connection and recruitment of veterans erode further.

Chairman Miller, Representative Filner and Members of the Committee, on behalf
of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), I thank you for
the opportunity to submit written testimony and to appear before you today to discuss
the efforts of our members to promote and create jobs for veterans.

The members of our Association are State leaders of the publicly-funded workforce
development system vital to meeting the employment needs of veterans. This is
accomplished through the Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program (DVOP) and the
Local Veterans' Employment Representatives (LVER) programs, as well as other
programs and initiatives offered through the publicly-funded workforce system. 

NASWA serves as an advocate for State workforce programs and policies, a liaison
to Federal workforce system partners, and a forum for the exchange of information
and practices. Our organization was founded in 1937. Since 1973, it has been a
private, non-profit corporation, financed primarily by annual dues from member
State agencies.

Helping veterans make a successful transition from their service in the military
to successful civilian careers remains a significant challenge. In March,
the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the jobless rate for veterans of all eras
combined was 8.7 percent, compared with 9.4 percent for nonveterans. However,
the unemployment rate for veterans who served in the military at any time since
September 2001 — a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans — was 11.5 percent
in 2010. Further, about 25 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans reported having
a service-connected disability in July 2010, compared with about 13 percent
of all veterans.

I would like to emphasize NASWA and our members seek the same outcomes for
veterans that the Committee does, to help our servicemembers quickly find
meaningful employment opportunities that lead to successful careers when they
leave the service of our country.

A Snapshot of Today's Workforce Development System

While the workforce development system provides services to all unemployed workers
and jobseekers it maintains a substantial focus on serving the needs of veterans. Today's workforce system provides customers with assistance either to gain immediate
entry to employment or to receive a range of services (including training) for successful
entry into jobs and careers. The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program provides
temporary wage replacement for individuals with a civilian or military work history.
The Employment Service (ES) provides labor exchange services and information to
help individuals find and compete for jobs, while services provided through the
Workforce Investment Act (WIA) supports various activities through local
One-Stop Career Centers including:

  1. Core Services. These services include labor market information,
    initial assessment of skill levels, and job search and placement assistance. Most core services can be described as self-services and include: resource rooms,
    computers, internet access, job listings, resume writing, workshops on interviewing
    skills, etc. WIA core services are sometimes called labor exchange
    services.
  2. Intensive Services. These services are for individuals needing
    more than core services to obtain or keep employment leading to self-sufficiency. These services are designed to prepare the individual for employment and include:
    comprehensive and specialized assessments of skill levels; development of individual
    employment plans; group counseling; individual counseling and career planning;
    case management; and, short-term prevocational services.
  3. Training Services. Access to training programs may be available
    to individuals who have met the eligibility requirements for intensive services
    but are unable to obtain or retain employment. Through One-Stop Career Centers,
    individuals are evaluated to determine whether or not they are in need of training
    and if they possess the skills and qualifications needed to participate successfully
    in the training program in which they express an interest. Training services
    must be directly linked to occupations in demand.

The workforce system is designed to help individuals assess their skills and
interests and receive vital information about current labor market demands for new
and existing employees. The system, because of limited funding has focused on
serving as many individuals as possible and providing the tools for customers to
help themselves as much as possible without significant staff assistance.

The performance measures metrics for the system reflect this 'self-help'
approach, and include: (1) entered employment, (2) employment retention, and (3)
average earnings in subsequent employment. While “job placement” might be a
desired activity, the realities of a high volume of customers and limited
funding force States to rely substantially on self-help approaches and the
myriad of ways workers find jobs on their own besides placement by an employment
agency or one-stop career center.

The organizational structure of the workforce system varies across States. However, veterans may access all available workforce services under a Priority of
Service (POS) mandate set forth by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL). So,
while LVERs and DVOPs deal exclusively with job-seeking veterans, the entire workforce
development system is geared to give priority of service to veterans.

While the majority of individuals receiving WIA services receive
lower-cost core and intensive services, these services have been found to be beneficial
as well as highly cost-effective. For example, it is estimated by Louis Jacobson
in a Brookings Institution paper through the Hamilton Project that job search assistance-related
services provide $4.5 dollars of benefit for every $1 spent. This type of return
on investment, coupled with the dire state of the economy and the need to support
returning veterans and other Americans striving to get a foothold in the workplace
brings to focus the value of the workforce system's services

In terms of income support, veterans upon separation from the military are eligible
for the Unemployment Compensation Program for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX) and are expected
to be able to work, be available for work and to actively seek work with the help
of reemployment services provided through the workforce system.

My testimony will review the activities our members have underway to assist veterans
and provide some illustrative information from three States: Minnesota, Florida
and Texas. You also requested data on eight identified variables concerning
veterans. I will provide some information from our existing reporting systems
(Table 1), but some of the data requested are not available. NASWA will follow-up
with your Committee to see if there might be other ways to capture the information.

Special Workforce System Efforts to Serve Veterans: Examples from
Three States

Mr. Chairman, first I would like to describe two activities currently underway
in my own State of Minnesota.

  1. Our Featured Employer Pipeline/Qualified Applicant List. Because
    many Minnesota employers call us looking to hire veterans, we started a pilot
    project directing job-ready, highly-skilled veterans to jobs in these companies. Our LVERS and Business Services Representatives have established working relationships
    with key HR personnel and hiring managers to create a direct “pipeline” of Veteran
    referrals to actual hiring managers within these “featured employers.” 
    Short-term results are very positive, and we look forward to continued success.
  2. Our Statewide Veterans “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” Career Fair.
    This event attracts about 1,000 of “Minnesota's Finest” veterans who are
    looking for career opportunities and educational options. Each year 80
    to 90 of Minnesota's best employers register for this event aimed at putting
    job seeking veterans together with Minnesota business anxious to hire veterans. May 3, 2011 marked our 5th year for this event, which, according
    to businesses and veterans alike “just keeps getting better.”

In Florida the State's Office of Workforce Services has:

  1. Created a Veteran's Portal which serves as a gateway to information
    and resource links that assist veterans, their families and employers help veterans
    achieve their employment goals. The portal has been accessed from virtually
    every theater of deployment where U.S. veterans are stationed.
  2. Aggressively sought additional resources to assist the Homeless Veterans
    Reintegration Program receiving grants totaling $925,178, to assist Homeless
    Female Veteran and Veterans with Families grants receiving grants totaling $437,974:
    and
  3. At the Regional workforce level has instituted a number of focused
    activities including:
  • Providing direct employment services to local veterans;
  • Working closely with the local Chambers of Commerce;
  • Establishing direct contact with local employers;
  • Working with related Federal programs administered by the Agency for
    Workforce Innovation (AWI), such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
    and Federal Bonding program; and
  • Conducting a series of local Job fairs for veterans.

In Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has:

  1. Created special features to serve veterans on its free public labor
    exchange system, WorkInTexas.com, including:
  • Flags to identify Veterans to employers and staff;
  • A two-day hold on all newly created job postings, to ensure veterans get
    first review;
  • Ability for employers to designate job postings as “Veteran Applicants Only”;
  • Numerous job search options for veterans, including viewing ”Veteran Applicant
    Only” and Federal Contractor job postings; and
  • Notification of Priority of Service (and identification) to all veterans
    upon entry into the system and at certain subsequent reentry points.
  1. The TWC also is developing a statewide comprehensive veteran's
    initiative
    (College Credit for Heroes) to maximize the military experience
    of veterans for college credit and employment. Last April, the Commission
    agreed to move forward on this $3 million statewide initiative that will award
    veterans college credit through testing and evaluation of prior learning. In
    addition, TWC will create a partnership between the State's community
    colleges and the Military Education Training Center (METC) in San Antonio to
    provide current active duty servicemembers with an accelerated degree plan
    to attain a associate's and bachelor's degrees in conjunction with military
    training.

The National Labor Exchange

Background

A vital component of the process to help our servicemembers find meaningful
employment opportunities when they leave the service of our country is to ensure
a viable labor exchange exists and is readily available to veterans and those who
will help them in their quest. To this end, NASWA in partnership with DirectEmployers
Association (DE) has created a National Labor Exchange (NLX).

The NLX allows NASWA and its State and business partners to have a direct involvement
in making job connections for our Nation's veterans.  Beginning in 2007, NASWA began offering the NLX to its
State workforce agency members as a free electronic
labor exchange service. The NLX is an automated initiative aiming to collect all
verifiable job openings in the country and share those job openings with State
workforce agencies and, ultimately, jobseekers.

The NLX differs from other major internet job aggregators in that: (1)
job postings are unduplicated and current, helping jobseekers connect to real openings,
(2) employers are verified to avoid risky scams, such as identify theft or false
promises of high earnings working from home; and (3) it is a unique public-private
initiative offered at no cost to the Federal Government, to State workforce agencies,
and to their employer and jobseeker customers.

NLX's technical operations are led by DirectEmployers Association (DE). DE is a trade association of over 660 Fortune 1000
companies represented by their human resource directors. DE's mission is to
provide a cost-effective national employment system that improves labor market
efficiency and reflects our Nation's diverse workforce. Since 2000, its flagship
service has been running a sophisticated job search and “spidering” engine that
captures employer job openings and provides the content to many Web sites and
aggregators.

In March 2007, NASWA endorsed JobCentral as the successor to America's Job
Bank (AJB) that was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL). AJB was a
national public job-bank defunded and shut-down by the USDOL in June 2007. After
an intensive evaluation process, NASWA and its members endorsed JobCentral as
the means to create the NLX.

Status and Benefits

Since March 2007, the NLX has collected delivered over 9 million unique and verified
job postings to State workforce agency staff and customers. Of the 9 million
job postings, over 4 million came from Federal contractors—a group of employers
that has special obligations to demonstrate it is recruiting and hiring veterans.
Also, since 2007, over 150,000 employers of all sizes have used this system, entering
the system either through the national site (www.jobcentral.org) or via State job
banks. Today, 49 State workforce agencies, plus the District of Columbia,
have signed participation agreements, sharing their own job posting content and
transforming JobCentral into the NLX. Talks are underway with the remaining
State and one territory to join the alliance.

The NLX has allowed participating State job-banks to receive thousands of job
postings via electronic download from: (1) employers typically not listing
with the public workforce system, (2) the U.S. government (USAjobs.gov), and (3)
from neighboring State workforce agencies. NLX job postings are updated daily,
avoiding duplication and ensuring real job opportunities are made available,
conditions key to offering jobseekers a better experience and making real job
connections.

In addition, the NLX has allowed State workforce agencies to transmit job
postings—and links to other valuable services—to government sites such as
the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces involving all branches of the
Reserves and the National Guard (www.employerpartnership.org), the Veterans
Administration's (VA) www.Vetsuccess.org site (targeting disabled veterans), and
DOL's mySkillsmyFuture.org site.

The NLX also provides State workforce agencies and employers access to an online
free tool called “Analytics.”  This allows workforce agencies and employers
to view traffic information about jobseekers' click-throughs from State job banks
to employers' corporate job application systems. Since the rollout of Analytics,
State job banks have consistently ranked among the top ten sites providing employers
with traffic to their corporate job application systems. In addition, the
analytics platform demonstrates the types of jobs of interest to jobseekers within
specific geographic areas. This information, in combination with the list
of NLX jobs existing within an area, can be powerful in determining future labor
demand, available supply, and needed training programs, all of which help States
offer better services to veterans and all citizens.

Creating and Leveraging a Compliance Service for Employers

The NLX offers a compliance mechanism for Federal contractors called
VetCentral. The VetCentral service was designed to provide DE members compliance
with the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) as amended
by the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA). Beyond simply meeting the letter of the law,
VetCentral strives to meet the spirit of the law, by bringing job openings
directly to the hands of the State staff working with veterans.

Per current regulations, VetCentral sends daily emails of Federal Contractor
Job Listing (FCJL) jobs to the “appropriate local employment service delivery system.” 
The emails are directed to LVERs and DVOPs along with other staff as designated
by the State workforce agencies. The user-friendly emails contain links to
the FCJL job postings and a “how to apply” link. The NLX has received positive
responses from field staff who use these emails every day in referring veterans. While State workforce agencies designate who receives emails, there is also a process
to review and correct current email addresses used by VetCentral. All FCJL
jobs, sent via email to produce a tangible audit trail, are also available for direct
download into States' job banks through the broader NLX initiative.

We believe current regulations published in Federal Register 41 CFR Part 60-300
have been vital in encouraging the creation of the NLX. While they have prompted
the creation of a VetCentral process that delivers FCJL job postings, they also
have created the opportunity for the NLX to flourish, bringing in a large number
of other job opportunities to State job banks. Since the workforce development
system offers many core self-services via priority of service to veterans,
enhanced job bank content helps benefit veterans' employment. 

Expanding NLX Jobs Content

This year, in an effort to increase the number of  verified and unduplicated
job postings, NLX partners are focusing on expanding the use of the NLX's free indexing
(an automated, daily service that “scrapes” job postings from individual employer
Web sites and other resources). State workforce agency staff is invited to make connections
with employers who currently do not list with the public workforce system and offer
to collect job openings residing on corporate Web sites through an indexing process. The NLX would then function as the free technology collecting job postings from
such corporate Web sites via indexing and adding them to this national job exchange
system

The successful continued operation of the NLX and improvements discussed above
are extremely valuable in helping veterans navigate a diverse, complex labor market.
NASWA asks for your support in raising awareness of this effort, which will
increase the number of job postings and expand employers' awareness of the
services available through the workforce development system. 

Challenges

Providing sufficient services to veterans is a priority of our workforce system,
yet presents several challenges. Unemployment remains high, the ratio of job
seekers to available jobs is still much higher than we would like (reported in February
of this year as 5.9 seekers for every job vacancy compared to a ratio of 1.7 in
December 2007) and the skills required for the jobs that are available are different
than those required even a few years ago. Nominal resources available to our
members have been reduced recently, and in the case of the ES have been
unchanged for almost 30 years. 

Beyond the system's concerns with ever decreasing real funding as an obstacle
in serving veterans, there are many other critical areas affecting veterans' employment
rates:

  1. Credentialing. Through our NLX employer partners we learned
    one of the most critical obstacles to the employment of veterans is the inability
    to secure formal credentials and certifications, even though they have received
    equivalent training while in the military. Veterans must spend resources
    including valuable time to acquire formal civilian credentials when many
    already possess the skills.
  2. Inability to identify where veterans with certain skills are located. Again through our NLX employer partners we learned there is no reliable nationwide
    information source identifying where employers with specific needs should be
    focusing their veteran recruitment efforts. The workforce system also has
    minimal access to this type of information.
  3. Identifying the right online resources for veterans hiring: Employers have indicated there are many sites and services aiming to facilitate
    veterans' employment. Employers must dedicate resources and staff to wade through
    a great amount of well-meaning sites to identify qualified veteran talent.
    While this is a real concern, how today's jobseekers and younger veterans
    search for jobs will continue to be multi-faceted, from personal contacts to
    exploring and applying on many online sites.

One solution is to create “super” employment portals seeking to channel jobseekers
and veterans' behavior, and influence employers' recruitment strategies. However,
this often results in Web sites with frustrating multiple links to other sites, duplicate
jobs, closed jobs, and difficult navigation in finding pertinent information (such
as assessments, where to go for in-person help, etc.). We believe jobseekers
and employers will continue to use multiple approaches in searching for jobs and
the fluid nature of the online world will continue to be a reality. Our focus,
as a public workforce system, is to continue nurturing the NLX as the resource providing
verified job postings to relevant outlets involved in connecting job-seeking veterans
with either the State workforce agency or the recruiting employer.

  1. Inability to translate Military Occupational Classification (MOC) to
    civilian jobs:
    A common issue identified by employers is veterans'
    inability to “translate” their skills and experiences into the civilian
    world. An MOC crosswalk to the Occupational Network (O*NET, the officially
    accepted “language” used to describe occupational skills) has been completed
    by USDOL and can be used quite successfully. Unfortunately, spreading the
    word of its existence and increasing its use are dependent on limited
    funding and an overburdened workforce development system staff. NASWA's NLX
    partner, DirectEmployers Association, has used this crosswalk, building the
    ability for veterans to enter MOCs online and receive back NLX jobs relevant
    to the entered MOC.
  2.  UI Reemployment and Connectivity: The recent recession
    has brought a renewed focus on connecting UI claimants with reemployment services. As I noted earlier, veterans upon separation from the military are eligible
    for the Unemployment Compensation Program for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX). The advent of remote claims-taking technology has enabled States to take UI
    claims online or via telephone. This has disrupted the connection of
    veterans and other UI claimants to workforce system services to differing
    degrees in the States.

NASWA through its Information Technology Support Center (ITSC) has undertaken
a project to support States in developing new strategies to connect unemployment
insurance claimants to the workforce system. In partnership with USDOL, ITSC
has developed a national vision and implementation plan for better connecting unemployment
insurance claimants to the workforce system both electronically and in person.
Currently we are working on the development of systems to implement the plan
which include integrated UI-workforce customer registration, transferability of
skills analysis, and use of social networking.

  1. Obstacles Created by USDOL Regulations: Recently the
    Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP), USDOL, has released a
    Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to govern the procedures Federal
    contractors must follow to demonstrate their efforts to recruit and hire
    qualified veterans. While OFCCP said it consulted with State officials, the
    proposed regulations appear to have been developed without formal input from
    State workforce agencies' leadership.

As a result, the proposed regulations make certain assumptions about the nature
of the workforce development system activities which are inaccurate. For example,
the proposed regulations assume the bulk of workforce system dollars are focused
on out-dated referral or placement processes and reinterpret the system's mandate
for “priority of service” to veterans as “priority referrals.”  The reality
is, declining funding and increasing demand, and a requirement to be a universal
system, has led most State activities to focus on the provision of core self-services,
not referrals or placements. While States continue to provide intensive and
training services, the extent to which these can be provided has been curtailed
substantially.

Based on this unrealistic framework, OFCCP's new reporting requirements for
Federal
contractors asks employers to document job referrals of veterans that are received
from State workforce agencies (outside the LVER and DVOP programs). The proposed
regulations ask Federal contractors for a 5-year collection of data on direct
“referrals” received from State workforce agencies (this does not include
veterans applying for jobs on their own that they saw posted on the State job
bank), applicant status (veteran and disability, and hires from “referrals”
received from State workforce agencies.

By programmatic design and fiscal necessity, the workforce system functions as
a provider of information and tools for jobseekers and employers. Focusing
on “referrals” is an out-dated approach in a system expected to meet entered employment,
employment retention, and wage level goals. Some LVERs and DVOPs might still work
on a limited number of referrals. However, the ES and WIA workforce development
programs have the same three performance measures toward which ETA and VETS expects
States to work. In fact, the notion of “referrals” has been abandoned by USDOL
and the States consciously as it reflects an increasingly out-dated way of
thinking about how jobseekers search for and find jobs.

While Federal contractors will comment on the virtue and burden of those new
requirements to the employer community and the resulting further obstacles in
hiring veterans, NASWA also is concerned about the unfunded reporting burden
these regulations will create for States workforce agencies, who will be asked
to confirm information employers offer during OFCCP audits, further splintering
dollars and resources meant to serve veterans.

Finally, there is a concern the proposed regulations will have the unintended
effect of decreasing the number of job openings currently found within State job
banks. This stems from language in the NPRM eliminating the ability of
Federal
contractors to list simultaneously within multiple State job banks. Instead,
the NPRM appears to require Federal contractors to provide jobs to States by manually
posting them within each State job bank for the purposes of tracking limited referrals. This is an excessive burden on employers. It will lead to some employers posting
jobs in fewer States. State workforce agencies who receive thousands of job
listings on a daily basis via direct downloads will ultimately see their offerings
to veterans reduced.

NASWA and its members remain dedicated to improving the efficiency of the labor
market and its labor exchange function, and improving the employment opportunities
of our Nation's veterans. We are willing to assist the Committee and the U.S.
Department of Labor in any way possible.

Thank you for the opportunity to address these important issues.


SELECTED DATA

Level of education of Veterans

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, annual averages
2009, at: www.bls.gov/spotlight/2010/veterans

Educational Attainment by Veteran Status

Percent distribution

Veteran status

Less than a high school diploma

High school graduate, no college

Some college or associate degree

College graduate

Nonveterans

14.3

30.8

27.6

27.2

Veterans

0

32.7

32.8

27.1

Gulf War-era II veterans

1.5

29.2

45.9

23.4

Gulf War-era I veterans

1.5

28.0

41.4

29.1

WWII, Korean War and Vietnam-era veterans

10.2

32.3

28.9

28.6

Length of Unemployment after leaving Service

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1998-2008
at: www.bls.gov/spotlight/2010/veterans

Labor Market Activity of Young Veterans

Percent of veterans ages 18 to 24 in 1998-2008

Number of months since separation from the Armed
Forces

Employed

Unemployed

Not in the labor force

1

42.2

23.8

34.0

2

51.0

21.6

27.4

3

58.4

18.6

23.0

4

60.5

15.9

23.6

5

65.4

14.9

19.7

6

65.1

12.5

22.3

7

69.9

11.2

18.9

8

68.6

11.3

20.1

9

69.5

11.9

18.6

10

71.7

11.2

17.1

11

74.8

10.0

15.2

12

78.6

8.7

12.7

13

79.4

7.5

13.0

14

78.4

7.5

14.1

15

75.8

7.2

17.0

16

78.3

7.6

14.1

17

75.5

8.1

16.3

18

79.0

6.0

15.0

19

76.6

9.9

13.5

20

80.9

6.4

12.8

21

82.0

7.1

10.9

22

80.8

7.0

12.2

23

82.5

4.9

12.5

24

84.0

5.6

10.4

Age of Veterans Served by the Workforce Investment System 

Source: DOL Employment and Training: PY 2009WIASRD Data Book

Age of veterans served in WIA

Age at Participation

(# in 000's)

 

18 to 21

22 to 29

30—44

45—54

55 +

Veteran

3.9

8.2

6.3

9.2

5.7

Disabled

0.5

1.1

0.9

1.2

0.9

Campaign Vet

1.0

1.8

1.2

2.0

1.6

Recently separated veteran

0.8

0.9

0.7

1.0

1.1

Other eligible person

0.1

0.2

0.1

0.2

0.2

Entered Employment Rate and Salary: 3rd
Quarter after exit.

Source: DOL Employment and Training: PY 2009WIASRD Data Book

Veterans Programs

Exiters from Oct 2008 to Sept 2009

Exiters from April 2008 to March 2009

Number of Exiters

Entered

Employment Rate (%)

Credential Attainment Rate (%)

Number of Exiters

Retention 2nd and 3rd Quarters (%)

Average Earnings ($)

26,469

54.7

42.8

24,434

76.4

14,932


Prepared Statement of Jolene
Jefferies, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, DirectEmployers Association

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, DirectEmployers Association
(DirectEmployers.org) is owned and managed by over 600 leading U.S. corporations
through a 501(c)(6) non-profit employer consortium. The Association's mission is
to provide employers an employment network that is cost-effective, improves labor
market efficiency and reaches an ethnically diverse national and international workforce.

Primary issues and obstacles our member employers say they face in recruiting
veterans are:

  • Clarification—While a
    majority of employers believe VEVRAA regulations are effective, it was noted
    that further clarifications are needed (e.g., the OFCCP's standards to evaluate
    Good Faith Efforts (GFE) by Federal contractors is inconsistent between 60-2(AA
    for Women and Minorities) and 60-250 (AA for Veterans).
  • Skills/Education Translation—The
    military workforce is challenged with the translation and transference of their
    education and skills to demonstrate their possession of the minimum and preferred
    job qualifications and/or requirements for which civilian employers seek.
  • Military/Civilian Certification—Several
    professions require accredited specialization that involves learned knowledge,
    certification and/or testing by a job seeker. Transitioning military workforce
    may be at a disadvantage without such accreditations. All levels of government
    need to implement solutions that effectively balance current challenges with
    educational system gaps, the accreditation of job seekers, and the fiscal demands
    and resources of civilian employers.
  • Lack of Data—There is
    no reliable data source that takes into account the available pool of the military
    workforce that demonstrates the correlation of standardized job, industry, and
    geographic classification codes that are consistent with other reported
    Federal
    labor, employment, economic, and census data.
  • OFCCP Consistency—Federal
    contractors have experienced challenges from the OFCCP, especially during compliance
    evaluations, two concurrent phenomena that hampers collaboration: 1) their knowledge
    and appreciation of how State workforce agencies operate, and 2) their dissemination
    of communications, staff training, and application of standards and procedures
    across and between their national, regional and district offices consistently.

Chairman Miller, Representative Filner, and Members of the Committee, on behalf
of DirectEmployers Association, I thank you for the opportunity to submit written
testimony addressing our Association's Veterans' education, employment, and job
search programs for employers. DirectEmployers Association and its members are
strong proponents of activities benefiting the employment of qualified veterans
through programs such as those under the Committee's jurisdiction.

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, DirectEmployers Association
(DirectEmployers.org) is owned and managed by over 600 leading U.S. corporation
executives through a 501(c)(6) non-profit employer consortium. The Association's
mission is to provide employers an employment network that is cost-effective, improves
labor market efficiency and reaches an ethnically diverse national and international
workforce.

Consistent with our mission, we partnered with The National Association of State
Workforce Agencies (NASWA) in 2007 to create the JobCentral National Labor Exchange
(NLX). The NLX replaced the previously federally-funded America's Job Bank and
provides employers an OFCCP compliance vehicle for providing job listings to veterans
as well as access to our Nation's State workforce system. It is available free-of-charge
to all employers, regardless of size, in all industries.

For most employers, OFCCP compliance is not the driving force. We are seeing
more and more companies establishing programs to pro-actively recruit veterans because
they provide such an outstanding talent-pool resource. The Association assists
employers' efforts in many ways. We provide an outstanding Hiring & Retaining
Veterans
webinar education and training series, job search programs, and
job distribution services to help member companies recruit our Nation's
servicemembers and their dependents. The focus of these programs is on helping transitioning
servicemembers, veterans and their families find and maintain meaningful employment.

In a recent in-house survey, some of the issues and obstacles our member employers
say they face in recruiting veterans are:

  • While a majority of employers believe VEVRAA regulations are effective,
    it was noted that further clarifications are needed (e.g., the OFCCP's standards
    to evaluate Good Faith Efforts (GFE) by Federal contractors is inconsistent
    between 60-2(AA for Women and Minorities) and 60-250 (AA for Veterans).
  • Because employers utilize a “just-in-time” hiring process, employers would
    benefit from learning about DoL, DoD, and related Federal and State employment
    services that support this model (e.g., recognizing that turnover in HR/Recruiting
    departments is dynamic and sometimes involves knowledge transfer gaps; as well
    as utilizing the Internet, social media platforms and related technologies are
    becoming commonplace; the impact of this is that companies are seeking to leverage
    cost/time-effective resources that provide immediate recruiting solutions).
  • The military workforce is challenged with the translation and transference
    of their education and skills to demonstrate their possession of the minimum
    and preferred job qualifications and/or requirements for which civilian employers
    seek.
  • Several professions require accredited specialization that involves learned
    knowledge, certification and/or testing by a job seeker. Transitioning military
    workforce may be at a disadvantage without such accreditations. All levels of
    government need to implement solutions that effectively balance current challenges
    with educational system gaps, the accreditation of job seekers, and the fiscal
    demands and resources of civilian employers.
  • There is no reliable data source that takes into account the available pool
    of the military workforce that demonstrates the correlation of standardized
    job, industry, and geographic classification codes that are consistent with
    other reported Federal labor, employment, economic, and census data.
  • In order for civilian employers to improve the recruitment of the military
    workforce, such data sources are needed. To create a standardized data source/report
    will require data surveys, validation and analyses that may take several years
    to complete, akin to other Federal employment and labor-related data sets (e.g.
    census, EEO special file, et. al).
  • Federal contractors have experienced challenges from the OFCCP, especially
    during compliance evaluations, two concurrent phenomena that hampers collaboration:
    1) their knowledge and appreciation of how State workforce agencies operate,
    and 2) their dissemination of communications, staff training, and application
    of standards and procedures across and between their national, regional and
    district offices consistently.
  • OFCCP should engage in town hall meetings, open forums, and other bridge-building
    dialogue with private-sector Federal contractors to demonstrate that the agency
    values the contributions of this subset, especially with regard to key agency
    developments that impact these relationships (e.g., regulatory changes, directives,
    and/or procedures).
  • The pre-employment voluntary self-identification of disability status by
    job seekers (including disabled veterans) is prohibited by the ADA. Thus, there
    must exist between the OFCCP and EEOC mutually-agreed upon interagency standards,
    guidance, permission and employer indemnity permitting employers to collect,
    evaluate and make  employment selection decisions based on these data.
  • The letter and the spirit of key employment and Federal contractor regulations
    and laws require that employers make objective employment-related selection
    decisions. Enacting a mandatory procedure that mirrors the combination of the
    “priority of service” process and a “veterans preference” policy (akin to U.S.
    State One-Stop Centers) raises a regulatory tension with these laws, including
    rendering a result of unintentional adverse impact among other protected classes
    (i.e., E.O. 11246, Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment and Assistance Act, Section
    503 of the Rehabilitation Act as amended, Uniform Guidelines on Employment Selection
    Procedures, Title VII, et. al).

DirectEmployers  Association continues to work with NASWA in multiple ways, including
veterans employment webinars for both employers and State workforce agencies, to
help all employers effectively recruit veterans:

JobCentral National Labor Exchange (NLX)

Federal Contractor Job Listing (FCJL) Distribution to DVOPs and LVERs

A key service of the NLX is a comprehensive suite of programs and services to
assist employers (e.g., Federal Government contractors) in complying with the Vietnam
Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) regulations, as amended by the
Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA) and developing Affirmative Action Programs to attract
veterans. Direct Compliance is the most comprehensive 4212 VEVRAA/JVA compliance
assistance program and is offered to employers who are members of DirectEmployers
Association. Members can have their job openings automatically indexed (scraped)
directly from their corporate career sites and made available to veterans through
the NLX and VetCentral, which assists participating members in complying with JVA
regulations.

VetCentral is a unique feature of the NLX which feeds job listings to State Employment
Services offices nationwide. VetCentral is fully integrated into the NLX. Member's
job openings are sent to the appropriate (Wagner-Peyser) employment service delivery
system via email or, in many cases, entered into the State job bank and records
are maintained for each transaction. In the event of an Office of Federal Contract
Compliance Programs (OFCCP) audit, employers can easily show these records to the
auditor to demonstrate compliance requirements.

DirectEmployers Association surpasses the minimum requirements to distribute
jobs to appropriate employment delivery systems in two ways:

  • through the JobCentral National Labor Exchange (NLX) that provides an automated
    job listing feed to State job banks; and,
  • through VetCentral—a unique service of the NLX which feeds jobs to State
    Employment Services offices nationwide.

The comprehensive NLX program includes an automated, efficient and very cost-effective
resource for employers to ensure their company's job openings are delivered accurately
and reliably to the State workforce system—the appropriate (Wagner-Peyser) local
employment service office(s)—including the Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program (DVOP)
coordinators and Local Veterans' Employment Representatives (LVER) program. The
DVOP/LVER staff is trained to meet the specific needs of veterans and they can be
very instrumental in referring veteran applicants to an organization, so it's helpful
for employers to develop local relationships with DVOPs and LVERs. Employers can
locate the DVOPs and LVERs in the States they operate in by visiting the National
Veterans' Training Institute's (NVTI's) DVOP/LVER Locator. The
DVOP/LVER staff is also very familiar with the complete range of employment
services and training programs available for veterans at the State Workforce
Agency CareerOneStop Centers and the Department of Veterans' Affairs Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment Program locations.

In addition to working with the CareerOneStops Centers and the Department of
Veterans' Affairs, the DVOPs and LVERs also work closely with Veterans Service Organizations
(VSOs). VSOs can also help employers get the word out to veterans about an organization's
job opportunities. Through the NLX and its partnership with NASWA, DirectEmployers
Association offers assistance to its members in reaching out to these State and
local partners to establish their employer's own direct relationships and partnerships
at the local level..

NLX also receives a download of jobs from USAJOBS and distributing them to
State
job banks. Sponsored by the Federal Office of Personnel Management, USAJOBS is
a job bank containing Federal Government positions. This download of
Federal job
openings is available to States for inclusion in their States job banks. To date,
the following States have requested the USAJOBs be included  in their State job
bank: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa,
Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

DirectEmployers Association is proud to be the provider of jobs data for “MySkillsMyFuture”,
a valuable U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration web
site which was launched last September. It is designed to connect workers with
high quality training and local employment opportunities. DirectEmployers
Association's jobs, including job listings from State Workforce Agencies, are
now included in the U.S. Department of Labor's MySkillsMyFuture, MyNextMove, and
CareerOneStop employment sites.

Military-specific organizations receiving NLX job listings include:

  •  JobCentral National Labor Exchange, or “NLX”
  • Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Coordinators (DVOPs)
  • Local Veterans Employment Representatives (LVERs)
  •  The .Jobs Universe Military Network
  • Armed Forces Employer Partnership  (operated by the U.S. Army Reserve
    for all Reserve Components)
  • HirePatriots.com
  • Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN)
  • National Marine Corps Business Network (NMCBN)
  • RecruitMilitary.com
  • Save Our Veterans
  • Veterans Enterprise
  • VetSuccess.gov   (operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs)

The .Jobs Universe Military Network

Earlier this year, DirectEmployers Association announced an extensive online
program to assist transitioning military personnel in all branches of our armed
forces, their spouses, dependents, and caregivers in quickly and efficiently finding
employment. The program is available free-of-charge to all employers and will
provide military personnel and their dependents access to more than 880,000
employment opportunities from over 90,000 employers nationwide.

The Association announced that over 5,800 dot-jobs (.jobs) domains have been
added to the .Jobs Universe (www.universe.jobs) to create employment services for
returning veterans (www.veterans.jobs) and their families. The domains use the
Military Occupational Classification (MOC) Crosswalk to assist military personnel
in transitioning from active duty to employment opportunities in the civilian workforce. Transitioning military personnel can enter their MOC plus.jobsinto their browser
to locate civilian occupations requiring the same or similar skills as their previous
military job (e.g.www.42F.jobs,www.25B.jobs,www.2891.jobs).

The .Jobs Universe also provides a Military Family (www.militaryfamily.jobs)
feature. This is designed to help military spouses, dependents and caregivers quickly locate
employment while their loved ones are serving our country. Military families can
enter the name of their military installation plus the intuitive .jobs suffix into
their browser and receive a list of employment opportunities on their assigned base
or in surrounding cities (e.g. www.CampPendleton.jobs, www.NewportNewsShipyard.jobs, www.FtKnox.jobs).

This new effort to assist our veterans and their families is further demonstration
of the value and benefit of the .jobs platform. It is free for employers,
veterans, and their families and it is organized to fit the way people use the Internet
to search for jobs and the way companies go about attracting specific skills and
experience with no artificial barriers in between.  With the extra steps
taken to ensure that only legitimate job listings from real companies are included,
veterans and their families can have confidence in using this service to submit
their background information over the Internet..

“This is a great program for the entire human resource community as well as our
transitioning military and their families. I am very proud to be a part of this
exciting initiative in support of those who have unselfishly given so much for our
Nation,” States, Rhonda Stickley, a 6-year U.S. Army veteran and current human
resource executive at Seattle-based Providence Health & Services.

DirectEmployers' new military .jobs initiative expands the potential of an already
established and robust partnership with the public sector, the National Labor Exchange
(NLX). Offered in partnership with the National Association of State Workforce
Agencies (NASWA), the NLX is a free, job-search engine feeding job openings into
50 publicly-funded State job banks.  This has substantially increased offerings
to all jobseekers, and especially veterans. Since March 2007, the NLX has provided
over 9 million, unduplicated, current jobs to State workforce agency staff dedicated
to serving veterans. The NLX uses no Federal funds for operations, research, or
development. Rather, this unique public-private partnership leverages private,
non-profit-owned technology with existing State workforce agency resources to
enhance offerings to veterans.

The NLX partners are looking forward to continuing their work with the Obama
Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training
Service (VETS) to offer comprehensive, coordinated services to returning
servicemembers and military families. DirectEmployers shares VETS' vision and commitment
to expand career opportunities for Veterans, transitioning servicemembers, and
their families.

Alicia Wallace, EEO Program Consultant for WellPoint and a military veteran whose
husband is a retired infantry officer says, “I salute all companies supporting these
outstanding military programs. As a Nation, we should do all we can for the gallant
men and women who serve in our armed forces. These individuals and their families
have made great sacrifices for our country and deserve all the gratitude and support
we can provide.”

Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee

DirectEmployers Association has established a Recruitment Regulatory Compliance
Committee (RRCC) to provide consultation and guidance for our Association and member
companies on issues related to veterans' employment and all regulatory matters,
especially those relating to the employment of veterans.

The RRCC is chaired by Jason Capili, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, co-chaired by Jolene
Jefferies, DirectEmployers Association, and consists of two National Industry Liaison
Group (NILG) members, a NASWA representative and an external consultant in addition
to twenty DirectEmployers Association member company representatives.

The primary purpose of the RRCC is to assist the Board in overseeing DirectEmployers'
recruitment compliance services and related programs as follows:

  • The RRCC will help to educate, inform, and update employer members about
    government contracting compliance and employment-related laws and regulations
    affecting recruitment and sourcing practices.
  • The RRCC will serve as the primary liaison to educate and communicate DirectEmployers'
    member companies' needs and perspectives to the various regulatory authorities.
  • The RRCC will assist in tracking proposed changes in compliance legislation,
    and will alert and advise the Board concerning the possible effects of impending
    changes in government contract compliance laws and employment regulations and
    the potential impact on DirectEmployers' member companies to recruit and source
    effectively.
  • The RRCC will make recommendations to the Board regarding the compliance
    services and related programs offered by DirectEmployers Association to help
    us remain on the cutting-edge as the leading provider of said services.
  • The RRCC will research and share information about speaking opportunities
    at various conferences and events to further educate all employers, regulatory
    authorities, State workforce agencies, the military and other stakeholders about
    DirectEmployers' compliance services and related programs.

Hiring & Retaining Veterans—a
Webinar Education Series

The intent of the veteran employment webinar education series, Hiring &
Retaining Veterans
, developed by Jolene Jefferies, SPHR and VP Strategic
Initiatives of DirectEmployers Association, is to offer employers comprehensive
training and resources to expedite the learning curve in developing, sharing and
implementing best practices and success strategies to attract, select, onboard and
retain America's military candidates.

The Hiring & Retaining Veterans series was originally developed
for employers so they could develop active, meaningful relationships with local
referral sources that allowed regular communication and feedback. It was quickly
determined that it could be utilized by a much broader community. Employers wanting
to engage in a more robust veteran outreach effort were invited to join this series
to:

  • Map a strategy to expand your company's local veteran outreach activities.
  • Learn how to leverage DirectEmployers Association's military partnerships
    as your own, at the local level.
  • Receive tips, resources and contact information of various veteran organizations
    to target and identify local partnership opportunities.
  • Discover ways to document veteran outreach and communications with veteran
    partners and referral sources.
  • Use analytics to identify specific employment practices that are verifiably
    effective in the recruitment of veterans.
  • Effectively demonstrate a history of compliant veteran outreach efforts.

Worthwhile to note, there has been a very strong interest in the resources, templates
and toolkits provided with the Veteran Outreach webinar. These resources are
estimated to save employers well over 250 hours of research and planning time.

  • Veteran Outreach PowerPoint Slide Deck (includes step-by-step strategic
    implementation plan
    )
  • Guide to Key Military Partnerships of DirectEmployers Association
  • Labor Market Assessment Template
  • Veteran Outreach and Partnership Sources for Employers
  • State Veterans Program Coordinators 
  • Marines Wounded Warrior District Injured Support Cell (DISC) Coordinator
    Roster 
  • Veteran Partner Levels and Definitions 
  • Local Veteran Recruiting Action Plan (RAP) Template

Attendees have included anyone interested in learning how to develop partnerships
at the local level and to advance outreach efforts to help employers find, attract,
hire and retain more veterans, including employers, recruiters, HR Compliance Experts,
Hiring Managers, Human Resource Professionals, Workforce Development Professionals,
Economic Developers, Community Representatives and Regulatory Agency Representatives.

An outline of the webinar content is included as Table 1 to this testimony.
DirectEmployers Association intends to continue offering these worthwhile
sessions on a regular basis.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the employers' perspective
and our activities in this area. We are dedicated to doing out utmost toward the
employment of our Nation's deserving veterans. We would be glad to provide you
with any additional information. DirectEmployers Association stands ready to
work with this Committee on the issues of veterans' employment.

Table 1

The Hiring & Retaining Veterans webinar education series is outlined
as follows:

Hiring & Retaining Veterans

Webinar Education Series for Employers

Developed and Delivered by: Jolene Jefferies, SPHR, VP Strategic Initiatives,
DirectEmployers Association

The Hiring & Retaining Veterans webinar education series
is designed to help employers explore how to create, develop and implement
a successful award-winning military recruiting and retention program as
part of their company's overall talent acquisition and employee retention
strategy. The Hiring & Retaining Veterans series, consisting
of 16 webinars, saves employers time and provides them with invaluable templates,
tools and resources to target veteran and military candidates to the organization
and retain them once they've been hired.

Strategic Planning,
Development and Implementation

1

Making the Case for Hiring Veterans: A Win-Win Business Strategy
Hiring Veterans

2

Veteran Outreach: Partnering at
the Local Level

3

Hiring Veterans: Important Laws
& Military-Friendly HR Policies

4

Hiring Veterans: Creating Brand
Awareness in the Military Community

5

Hiring Veterans: Sourcing Strategies
to Attract Military Talent - Part I

6

Hiring Veterans: Sourcing Strategies
to Attract Military Talent - Part II

7

Hiring and Accommodating Disabled
Veterans: Strategies for Success

8

Hiring Veterans: Training Your Recruiters
& Hiring Managers

9

Hiring Veterans: The DD-214 & Background
Investigations

10

Hiring Veterans: Understanding the
Military to Improve Employment Practices & Outcomes

11

Hiring Veterans: Recruitment Compliance
Strategies

12

Onboarding New Veteran Employees: Strategies for Success

13

Hiring Veterans: Employer Best Practices
Showcase
Retaining Veterans

14

Retaining Veterans and Disabled Veterans: Strategies for Success

15

Retaining Veterans: Training Your
Recruiters, Hiring Managers and Key Leaders

16

Retaining Veterans: Employer Best
Practices Showcase

Prepared Statement of Kevin
M. Schmiegel, Vice President, Veterans Employment Program, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and Members of the Committee, my name
is Kevin Schmiegel, and I am the vice president of veterans' employment programs
at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Thank: you for the opportunity to appear as a witness before the Committee and
speak to you about veterans' employment and what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is
doing to help our Nation's heroes find meaningful employment in the private sector.

As you know, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation
representing the interests of three million members and organizations of every size,
sector, and region.

The reason the Chamber is interested in our Nation's veterans is simply that
many of our members, which include thousands of small, medium, and large businesses,
want to hire veterans. Even with high unemployment, we have a huge skills gap in
America that is hindering our recovery and undermining our global competitiveness.
Veterans can help to fill that gap, because they have unique leadership experience
and incredible technical expertise. They are excellent problem-solvers and they
are extremely reliable, and let's not forget that 90 percent of military occupations
are directly transferrable to jobs in the private sector. The Chamber's veterans
programs will help raise awareness across the business community of this great pool
of potential workers who can help fill our Nation's skills gap.

As a veteran myself, it is an honor and a privilege to be here today. Two years
ago, I retired from the United States Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel after
20 years of active duty service.

My own transition from the military to the civilian workforce was full of good
fortune. I was lucky to have a mentor like former National Security Advisor, General
Jim Jones, who took a very special interest in my search for a second career. I
was lucky to be at the right place at the right time. And I was lucky to be hired
by an organization like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce whose President and CEO Tom
Donohue understands and appreciates the value of hiring a veteran. Not every veteran
is that lucky.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report on the "Employment Situation of Veterans
in 2010" shows that on average there were over one million unemployed veterans in
America during 2010. With an overall population of 22 million veterans and a total
of just over 12 million veterans in the civilian workforce, veterans had a jobless
rate of 8.7 percent last year. While this was comparable to the national average
unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, there are some alarming trends that may result
in higher unemployment for veterans in the short term. For example, the unemployment
rate for post 9-11 era veterans was 11.5 percent with younger veterans (those ages
18 to 24) suffering from an average unemployment rate above 20 percent in 2010.
For that age category, the unemployment rate among veterans currently stands at
a staggering 26.9 percent. Additionally, current or past members of the Reserve
or National Guard had an unemployment rate of 14.0 percent in July 2010.

Data for these cohorts are even more concerning given ail additional 155,000
veterans will be leaving active duty and 100,000 guard and reservists will be demobilized
and returning to the workforce in 2011.

With the potential draw down of our armed forces and significantly higher rates
of unemployment for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and returning guard and reservists
on the horizon, the Chamber has started several initiatives that will enhance private
sector job opportunities for veterans and their spouses.

The U.S. Chamber's Hiring our Heroes Program

In March of 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched its Hiring our Heroes
program, a year-long nationwide effort to help veterans and their spouses find
meaningful employment. The Chamber started the program in partnership with Mr. Ray
Jefferson, the Assistant Secretary for the Department of Labor Veterans Employment
and Training Service (DOL VETS) and Mr. Ron Young, Executive Director National Committee
for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), to improve public-private
sector coordination in local communities, where veterans and their families are
returning every day.

With our federation of business leaders, State and local chambers, and industry
associations spanning nearly every State and city, the Chamber has the infrastructure
to lead a nationwide campaign to connect veterans and military spouses with employers.
Working with our extensive network of State and local chambers, DOL VETS, ESGR,
veterans' services organizations, and businesses of all sizes representing all sectors,
we are coordinating public and private sectors to better match veteran talent with
career opportunities in local communities across the country.

There are four pillars of the Chamber's Hiring our Heroes program. While
the main focus of effort is on connecting all veterans and military spouses with
second careers in the private sector, we have also created strategic partnerships
in three other areas to deal with specific populations of veterans and their unique
challenges. They include: a Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Program, a Student
Veterans Internship and Employment Program, and a Women Veteran and Military Spouse
Employment Program. Our aggressive agenda focuses on one measure of success-jobs
for the one million unemployed veterans in America.

100 Hiring Fairs for Veterans and Military Spouses

In the coming year, the Chamber will host 100 hiring fairs with local chambers
of commerce-across the country. The first of these hiring fairs took place in Chicago
on March 24, 2011 and was a huge success with 127 employers and 1,200 veterans and
their spouses participating. Initial feedback from the veterans and employers indicates
that approximately 150 of the veterans and military spouses who attended are likely
to get jobs.

To make our hiring fairs more meaningful for veterans and military spouses and
to gain traction in local communities, we have enlisted high level public and private
sector speakers to keynote our hiring fair events and have employed an aggressive
media and public relations campaign, which has earned the attention of news outlets
across the country. The Chamber's Hiring our Heroes program was recently
highlighted in several national media outlets as part of Joining Forces,
a campaign backed by First Lady Michelle Obama, to educate, employ and mentor
U.S.
servicemembers and their families.

We are also offering transitional workshops in conjunction with many of our hiring
fairs and have created an information technology system to track a number of important
metrics to include job placements for veterans and their spouses-an area where our
Nation has fallen woefully short in the past. By hosting these 100 hiring fairs,
we hope to connect 100,000 veterans and spouses with over 1,000 different employers
over a 12-month period.

Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Program

Our program for Wounded Warriors is tailored to meet the unique challenges and
demands for wounded warriors, spouses and caregivers. In partnership with the
USA,
Hire Heroes USA, and wounded warrior transition units in Fort Carson, Colorado and
Fort Belvoir, Virginia, we are hosting quarterly transition workshops and career
opportunity days with the potential to scale to several additional locations in
2012. Our goal is to build a wounded warrior pipeline that directly connects these
talented young men and women who have honorably served our country with companies
that are dedicated to their successful transition to the private sector.

To prepare wounded warriors for career opportunities, wounded warrior transitional
workshops teach participants necessary skills such as resume writing, interviewing,
goal setting and basic financial planning for effective job searching. Career opportunity
days provide wounded, ill, and injured troops and their spouses with an opportunity
to conduct mock interviews and network with prospective employers in a more intimate
environment than traditional career fairs. We have established this format because
wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers are often overwhelmed by the magnitude
of career fairs and choose not to participate, resulting in employers losing the
opportunity to hire these high-potential employees.

Career opportunity days are limited to no more than 20 dedicated employers and
100 wounded warriors who are making the transition to a civilian career. Employers
are connected directly with 10 prospective employees based on a mutual interest
in either the employer's industry or the wounded warrior's military background.

We have also started discussions with Mr. John Campbell, the Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy, to offer innovative
private sector solutions to help wounded, ill, injured and transitioning
servicemembers transition seamlessly to civilian life.

Student Veterans Internship and Employment Program

The U.S. Chamber is partnering with Student Veterans of America (SVA) on several
new initiatives to enhance the ability of student veterans to find meaningful employment
in the private sector upon graduation. Our jobs and internship program will be launched
in early June 2011 at over 350 colleges and universities and will initially be available
to over 40,000 student veterans seeking internships and job opportunities across
the Nation. In addition to conducting tailored hiring fairs for student veterans
at SVA's National Conference in December 2011 and their Annual Leadership Summit
in 2012, we have elicited the support of several Fortune 100 companies to establish
campus recruiting programs and to work with SVA chapters to develop a nationwide
internship program for student veterans from campuses in all 50 States.

Women Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Program

The Chamber is working with Business and Professional Women's (BPW) Foundation
and have started discussions with Mr. Robert Gordon, Deputy Assistant Secretary
of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, in an effort to help women
veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment in the private sector.
In addition to collaborating with the White House on its Joining Forces initiative
and connecting the business community with the Department of Defense on nationwide
efforts to employ active duty spouses in the private sector, we will enlist the
support of American Chambers of Commerce abroad and global companies to help place
military spouses in jobs overseas.

While women veterans and military spouses will be the beneficiaries of many of
our other programs, we will also host tailored events and champion specific forums
to address some of their unique challenges in finding employment. One of the primary
goals of this program is to significantly decrease women veteran and military spouse
unemployment by establishing a network of 10,000 women mentors in the business community
to connect with women veterans and military wives by the end of 2012.

Principles for Success

Before closing I'd like to outline five fundamental principles that we believe
are critically important to the success of our programs.

First, local communities must be the cornerstone of any national program to reduce
veterans' unemployment. I say this with confidence based on professional experience.
In my final few years as a Marine, I served as the head of enlisted monitors managing
60 human resources specialists who were responsible for the assignment and retention
of 170,000 Marines worldwide. Over a 2-year period, our department interviewed
tens of thousands of Marines about their decision to stay or leave active duty.
Of those who were leaving the service, an overwhelming majority were more concerned
about where they were going rather than what they were going to do for a second
career. Additionally, exit surveys from all service components reinforce that geographic
preference is an important consideration when veterans are entering the civilian
workforce. While the U.S. Chamber can have some effect talking to public and private
sector leaders in Washington DC, it pales in comparison to the impact we can have
with the help of chambers of commerce, business leaders and government officials
in local communities where veterans are returning every day.

Second, we must do a better job of coordinating public and private sector efforts
in local communities. While there are no shortages of hiring programs for veterans,
it is clear those programs are not working well enough. The fact is there are hundreds
and hundreds of private sector companies, non-profits, NGOs, veteran services organizations
and government agencies that have individual programs to help veterans find jobs.
However, most of these individual programs are not yielding results, and collectively,
they are falling woefully short. Because they are duplicative, they compete with
one another, they cause unnecessary confusion for veterans and their families, and
they are not well coordinated. We believe that the U.S. and local chambers of commerce
are uniquely positioned to better coordinate public and private sector efforts in
hundreds of cities across America.

Third, we must look for other innovative ways to help transitioning veterans,
including helping them start or grow a small business; improving certification,
licensing, and vocational education for veterans and their spouses; and enhancing
the availability of internships and mentoring programs within the business community.
With our strong federation of business leaders, State and local chambers, and industry
associations spanning nearly every State and city, the Chamber can playa massive
role in establishing private sector programs that assist military families in their
transition to civilian life.

Fourth, all programs-existing and new-should be measured against clear objectives
and established metrics, so we can focus on what is working and stop funding programs
that are not producing results. When the Chamber completes the last of our 100 hiring
fairs we will host a summit with all of stakeholders to analyze outcomes and discuss
best practices.

And finally, we need to build on the incredible momentum that has brought veterans
issues to the forefront of America's psyche and take advantage of what the Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, has called a "sea of goodwill." As
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The time is always right to do what is right."
It is clear that now is the time to positively affect veterans unemployment and
to do it right.

Conclusion

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and distinguished Members of the Committee
on Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is committed to helping better
coordinate public and private sector efforts to find meaningful employment for veterans
and their spouses in local communities where they are returning every day. Our success
will be measured by the impact our programs have on helping our veterans find and
keep good jobs in the private sector.

Thank you for this Committee's unwavering commitment and support of veterans
and their families.

I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today and look forward to
answering your questions.


Prepared Statement of Henry
Jackson, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, Society for Human Resource
Management

Executive Summary

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), with 260,000 members, is the
world's largest association devoted to serving the needs of human resource professionals
and to advancing the HR profession.

SHRM and its members have adopted the transition of military veterans into the
civilian workforce as a key issue. With successful transitions, our heroes receive
the welcome they deserve; employers gain workers legendary for their commitment
to mission; and our Nation's productivity and status in the global marketplace is
enhanced.

Within the last 2 years, SHRM has forged partnerships with Employer Support
for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment
and Training Service (VETS). The organization is also about to enter a similar collaboration
with the Department of Veterans Affairs. In all instances, the goal is to ensure
that employers have what's needed to create a transition program, identify and hire
veterans, and retain those veterans, including building a workplace supportive of
our military forces.

Ultimately, SHRM wants every one of its members—plus other HR professionals—to
know who to call to find veteran talent, and who to call to get assistance in easing
the transition of that veteran into the civilian workforce.

Many of the hurdles facing employers and veterans alike can be described as culture
clashes. Veterans need help translating their specialized skills, along with their
respect for discipline and chain of command, into civilian vocabulary, and a job. They are not accustomed to self-promotion. Nor, given their combat experience,
are they accustomed to a business concept of a “life or death” situation; or to
“seeking input” from a team; or a managerial style that is not centered on command
and control.

On the employer side, more communication with HR professionals is needed. SHRM
research (available to the Committee) found that most talent managers are unaware
of the many resources available to them, from both government agencies and non-profit
organizations, to assist them in finding, hiring, and retaining the right veterans
for their jobs. SHRM pledges to help close that communication gap, and to help employers
see veterans as loyal, dedicated, and highly trainable potential employees. Many
local SHRM chapters and councils are already conducting employer-education programs
focused on the benefits of hiring veterans, and on how to make their transition
successful.

The Society has dedicated a section of its Web site to the transition issue, and
another on disability employment. It offered a military program at its annual conference
last year and will do so again this month, making the educational event available
to more than 12,000 conference attendees. Similar programs are met by a receptive
audience—SHRM describes its members as professionals who understand that it makes
sense to hire veterans, and that it's a moral obligation to help those
veterans after all they have sacrificed.


Introduction

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and distinguished Members of the Committee,
my name is Hank Jackson. I am the Interim President and Chief Executive Officer
of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). SHRM is the world's largest
association devoted to human resource management. The Society serves the needs of
HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948,
SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary
offices in China and India. On behalf of our approximately 260,000 members in over
140 countries, I thank you for this opportunity to appear before the Committee to
discuss the transition of military veterans into the civilian workforce.

Our members strongly believe that helping military servicemen and women transition
back to the workforce benefits every party involved: our heroes receive the welcome
they deserve through employment; employers gain employees who are committed to the
mission; and our Nation's productivity and status in the global marketplace is enhanced..

In my testimony, I will share SHRM's efforts to promote the recruitment and retention
of veterans in the workplace, provide SHRM survey research on the state of veterans'
employment, describe our concerns about why the promise of employment to many veterans
remains unfulfilled, and offer proposals for eliminating these hurdles to veterans'
employment.

SHRM's Efforts to Promote Veterans' Employment

The transition of veterans into the workplace has developed into a key
concern for SHRM and for the HR profession. To assist employers in recruiting
and retaining current and former members of the military, SHRM has collaborated
with key Federal agencies.

First, our members appreciate that almost half of our Nation's military strength
resides in the National Guard and Reserve. They see men and women leave their workplaces
to do their duty, and they see them return from combat, sometimes struggling to
reintegrate into civilian life. In addition, some Guard and Reserve members joined
the military as their first real “job,” and now they need our members' help. After
all those warriors have sacrificed for us, HR professionals embrace a responsibility
to help our heroes reclaim their civilian lives and return to meaningful and productive
work.

For this reason, SHRM formed a partnership with the Department of Defense's Employer
Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) by signing a Statement of Support in March
2010. As the principal advocate within the U.S. Department of Defense, ESGR's mission
is to develop and promote employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing
employers that offer outstanding support, increasing awareness of applicable laws
and resolving conflict between employers and servicemembers.

Through this partnership, SHRM is working with ESGR to link all SHRM State councils
and chapters with their local ESGR office and encourage SHRM members to sign their
own Statement of Support. More than 300 SHRM chapters and 31 SHRM State Councils
have signed a Statement of Support to date.

SHRM also serves as a member of the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom
Award National Selection Board, which selects Freedom Award recipients on an annual
basis. The Freedom Award is the Department of Defense's highest recognition
given to employers for exceptional support of their employees serving in the Guard
and Reserve. We are pleased that several employers of SHRM members have been presented
with the Freedom Award.

Soon after forging our partnership with ESGR, we inaugurated a military hiring
event as part of our 2010 annual conference and exposition in San Diego, California.
That event, called “Military Veterans: Transitioning Skills to the New Economy,”
brought together HR professionals, business leaders, Federal agencies and hundreds
of members of the military. We showed both employers and veterans how they could
benefit each other, focusing on the skills they each need to succeed as partners.
During the full conference, participants also were addressed by Ray Jefferson, Assistant
Secretary of the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service
(VETS). His riveting remarks reminded us that there are other heroes who need and
deserve our attention. They are the people who volunteered for active duty, many
of them right out of school, and who now return in search of their first civilian
job. Building on the enthusiastic response we received for last year's program,
we're holding another veterans' employment event at our conference in Las Vegas
later this month, offering it at no charge to more than 12,000 HR professionals.
The 6-hour program will focus on everything needed to recruit and accommodate
veterans, wounded warriors, and spouses. Just as important, we'll talk about creating
an inclusive workplace that encourages veterans to stay with their new organization.

SHRM has also developed a deeper relationship with VETS, to complement our ongoing
partnership with ESGR. The core of our work with VETS is in helping the agency to
inform employers across the Nation about the resources that are available to them
in finding, recruiting, and retaining military veterans. For instance, right now,
we're identifying States that will be pilot sites for a more cooperative relationship
between SHRM chapters and VETS. We want our members, at the State and regional levels,
to get to know the VETS staff, and to rely on them for assistance. In addition,
our two organizations are working together to create a toolkit for employers. It
will be a collection of practical steps and tangible tools for creating a hiring
program, identifying and hiring veterans, and doing what it takes to retain
those veterans, including building a workplace that's supportive of our military
forces.

In a related effort, the White House invited SHRM to participate in “Joining
Forces,” an initiative focused on the needs of military families led by First Lady
Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Addressing the goals of this effort, SHRM's
educational materials will include resources and tips on effective practices for
recruiting and retaining military spouses, maximizing workplace flexibility and
other policies to support military families, and creating high-performing work environments
for all service-connected employees.

I'm also pleased to inform you that we're preparing to embark on a similar collaboration
with the Department of Veterans Affairs..

These partnerships have proved to be invaluable to SHRM and our members and hopefully
to the agencies as well, and we are deeply grateful for them. Ultimately it is our
hope that through all these efforts, we can help every SHRM member to know where
to find qualified veteran job candidates, and where to get assistance in easing
the transition of that veteran into the civilian workforce.

SHRM Research on Employment of Military Veterans

SHRM features a research department that has conducted several survey reports
on employer recruitment, hiring and retention practices of military
servicemembers.
In June 2010, SHRM published its most recent report in this series, titled “Employing
Military Personnel and Recruiting Veterans—Attitudes and Practices.”

The survey examined two areas:

  1. Active Duty Service Employees. The poll looked at pay and
    benefits that organizations provide to employees who have been mobilized to
    serve on active duty for an extended period of time (more than 2 weeks), either
    as a reservist or as a member of the National Guard. The challenges organizations
    face when an employee has been mobilized to serve on active duty and the overall
    familiarity that HR professionals have with the Uniformed Services Employment
    and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) were also explored.
  2. Recruiting and Hiring Veterans. The benefits and challenges
    of hiring military veterans were examined, as were the resources that could
    assist organizations in recruiting and hiring veterans.

The survey's key findings include:

  • The majority of employers are considering and hiring veterans. Fifty-three
    percent of respondents said that, within the previous 36 months, their organization
    had hired veterans as full-time, part-time or temporary/contract workers. Of
    those organizations that hired at least one veteran, 50 percent revealed that
    they had made a specific effort to recruit and hire veterans.
  • Organizations are going beyond what is required by law to help employees
    who are returning to work after active duty service.
    Sixty-six percent provide
    returning employees an employee assistance program (EAP) to help with transitioning
    back to work, 58 percent provide catch-up skills training to help with transitioning
    back to work, and 48 percent provide flexible work arrangements during the transition.
  • Organizations find that veterans make extremely positive contributions
    to the workplace.
    Of those organizations that had hired at least one veteran
    during those 36 months, more than 85 percent said the benefits of hiring employees
    with military experience include:
  • “Strong sense of responsibility”
  • “Ability to work under pressure”
  • “Ability to see a task through to completion”
  • “Strong leadership skills”
  • “High degree of professionalism”
  • “Strong problem-solving skills”
  • “Ability to multi-task”
  • “Ability to adapt to changing situations quickly”
  • “Positive impact on the image and/or credibility of the organization”
  • Employers are providing generous benefits support (i.e., non-direct
    compensation) to mobilized employees and their families.
    Sixty-three percent of
    respondents said their organizations provide an extension of health insurance
    for the employee's family and 47 percent provide an extension of health insurance
    for the employee.
  • Employers are seeing fewer employees mobilize to serve on active duty.
    In 2004, 51 percent of employers said that in the previous 36 months they
    had experienced employees being mobilized to serve on active duty, either as
    a reservist or as a member of the National Guard, for an extended period of
    time (more than 2 weeks). In 2010, that figure decreased to 34 percent of
    respondents.
  • Importantly, HR professionals believe transition assistance programs
    can further facilitate the hiring of veterans.
    When asked “What programs
    would help your organization in efforts to recruit and hire military veterans,”
    72 percent responded programs to train veterans with additional skills for the
    civilian workplace; 71 percent said programs to help veterans transition their
    military skills to the civilian workplace; and 71 percent said assistance identifying
    and reaching out to qualified veterans.[1]

 Challenges Facing Veterans and Employers Alike

There are a number of hurdles to be cleared in order for veterans and employers
to achieve the goals they both seek—meaningful employment for the veteran and a
highly skilled and engaged employee for the hiring organization. Some of the challenges
may be more structural in nature; others attributable to the differences between
military and civilian workplaces; while still others are attributable to a lack
of access to training and education for veterans and employers.

As noted above, 71 percent of HR professionals are unaware of, or unsatisfied
with, programs to help them find and assimilate veterans into their workforces.  In a separate poll, SHRM found that nearly seven out of 10 HR professionals were
not at all aware of the U.S. Department of Labor's Local Veterans' Employment Representative
Program, and the same numbers were completely unaware of DOL's Disabled Veterans'
Outreach Program. As a result, SHRM sees their partnerships with agencies such as
DOL-VETS and ESGR as extremely important in order to increase the awareness of available
programs. Part of the confusion of many employers may lie in the number of
Federal,
as well as, State programs devoted to veterans' employment. While their missions
may be distinct, it is not always clear to the employer the role each plays in the
employment process.

It is also clear that more communication is needed to advise HR professionals
and employers of the help available to them from both government and non-profit
organizations, largely at no cost. A follow-up poll last fall by SHRM and the Cornell
University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and released in January found
that 87 percent of HR professionals were unaware of the Tip of the Arrow Foundation;
73 percent were unaware of the Department of Veterans Affairs' VetSuccess program;
and 60 percent were not aware of such programs, services and organizations as Wounded
Warrior, Job Opportunities for Disabled American Veterans, and the Paralyzed Veterans
of America.

There are also some misunderstandings about what to expect from veterans with
combat-related disabilities, or what must be done to accommodate disabilities. According
to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the unemployment rate for veterans with severe
disabilities is a stunning 85 percent. For veterans with any disabilities,
the hiring challenge is greater than for the rest of their military colleagues—but
the problem is largely one of perception. Again, better communications are needed
to correct faulty assumptions.

Some employers fear that making physical accommodations for a veteran with a
disability will be expensive, but the average cost is $600 or less, according to
the Job Accommodation Network within the Department of Labor's Office of Disability
Employment Policy. And even that cost can be covered by Federal work opportunity
tax credits.

According to SHRM's own research of members, erroneous assumptions are also made
about accommodating the nearly half of veterans who return to civilian life with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Lisa Rosser,
author of The Value of a Veteran: The Guide for Human Resources Professionals
in Regarding, Recruiting and Retaining Military Veterans
, has told us that,
despite employer fears that a veteran with PTSD will exhibit extreme behavior, by
far the most common reaction of a PTSD sufferer to an intolerably stressful situation
is to simply leave. And most accommodations for TBI are minor, plus veterans often
recover completely from the injury. The benefit of hiring disabled veterans, she
said, far outweighs the hassles.

Once hired, retention of veterans is also an issue. This challenge may
be described as a culture clash. Not many employers—or HR professionals—can identify
with the experience of war, or the unique culture of the military.

Adjusting to civilian workplace protocol also drives away some newly hired veterans.
Last year, MyMilitaryTransition.com surveyed veterans and HR managers on why job
retention beyond 18 months is often difficult. Veterans cited “lack of cultural
fit” as the leading reason; HR managers described it as “an inability to let go
of the military way of doing things.”

Finally, many returning veterans face a unique challenge in translating their
specialized skills, along with their respect for discipline and chain of command,
into a civilian vocabulary, and a civilian job. Last spring, a SHRM poll of its
members found that 60 percent of respondents said translating military skills was
the biggest hurdle to veterans in writing resumes, interviewing, and other job-hunt
communications. The systems used to identify specific job or job functions in the
military—the Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) for the Army and Marine Corps
or the Navy Enlisted Classification system for Navy personnel—does not easily translate
veterans' skills to a potential civilian employer nor help the veteran clearly articulate
what he or she did while in the service.

The main vehicle for addressing skills translation and preparing transitioning
servicemembers to civilian life is the Transition Assistance Program or TAP. TAP
represents a partnership among the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and
the U.S. Department of Transportation, plus VETS at Labor. As noted above, SHRM
members have expressed a desire for improving the transition assistance provided
to service-members, including translation of military skills, interviewing techniques,
and job-search advice. It is our understanding that VETS is seeking to improve
this transition assistance. SHRM believes this effort is a significant step in
the right direction to achieve more uniformity and standardization in preparing
transitioning servicemembers for employment in the civilian sector.

Challenges Can Be Overcome

There are challenges in bringing together employers and veterans successfully,
but those challenges are not insurmountable. Success demands the best tools of HR,
a community of understanding, and a utilization of what, thankfully, is becoming
a broad network of resources being made available to those who have served our
Nation
so selflessly and bravely.

With success comes benefit to both the veteran and the employer. As Members of
this Committee know, veterans make loyal, dedicated, and highly trainable employees.

When I talk of challenges faced in this hiring equation, I must admit that one
lies squarely on my own doorstep—the need to make HR professionals more aware of
the many resources available to them in assisting the work transition of returning
veterans. It's something that we recognize at SHRM, and we're doing something about
it.

Having said that, however, I want to assure the members of this Committee that
the target audience for those efforts—HR professionals—is an eager and willing audience.
They do not have to be sold on our national obligation to veterans, or the practical
advantages of adding veterans to their workforces.

These HR professionals are people who understand that it makes
sense to hire veterans, and that it's a moral obligation to help those
veterans after all they have sacrificed. Our members, and other professionals like
them, just need assistance in finding the applicants, and in building a long-term
relationship with them.

In that same vein, I can assure you that members of our chapters and State councils,
just like those of us on staff, are fully engaged and supportive of this effort.
Many are educating local employers about existing laws and regulations, and giving
them tips on how to find and hire the right veterans for their needs. Others are
working directly with veterans, helping them find jobs and transition into the civilian
workforce.

Here are just two examples. When 1,500 Vermont National Guard and Reserve members
were deployed to Afghanistan, one of our Vermont chapters hosted a community town
hall meeting for employers from businesses of any size. In partnership with ESGR,
our HR professionals taught those employers about the Uniformed Services Employment
and Reemployment Rights Act, as well as the Family and Medical Leave Act. They also
brought in experts to guide employers though the steps they should follow in reintegrating
employees when they return from combat.

Another example comes from Texas. As Representatives Bill Flores (R-TX) and Silvestre
Reyes (D-TX) may be aware, our SHRM Texas State Council and some of our local chapters
have hosted several full-day events focusing on veterans' employment. The most recent
was May 20, in Austin. Business leaders and staffing and recruiting professionals
gathered to learn best practices from an array of experts on how to build a strategy
for recruiting a veteran, military spouse, wounded warrior or reservist.

They showed employers how to build recruitment and retention strategies for veterans,
for military spouses, and for wounded warriors. Essentially, they talked about effective
practices to attract these skilled workers and keep them onboard.

Afterward, here's what one of the employers said about the program: “Although
I've never hesitated to hire a veteran, I came away with a new understanding of
how to proactively recruit veterans and fully integrate them into the workforce.
I couldn't have found a better venue for honest and direct information on the struggles
U.S. veterans face when entering the private sector.”

Conclusion

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, SHRM and its members will continue
our efforts to assist employers in finding, recruiting and retaining military veterans.

We will keep reaching out to all HR professionals, whether members of SHRM or
not, and make them aware of the programs and services available to employers.

We will continue our ongoing programs with both ESGR and VETS, and we will hold
another military employment program for HR professionals at our annual conference
in Las Vegas later this month.

Finally, we will continue working with our councils and chapters, engaging them
on the military transition issue, and assisting them with their own community-based
educational programs.

As we work together to improve employment outcomes for transitioning
servicemembers, we suggest the following to foster greater employment opportunities for
transitioning servicemembers:

  • Encourage continued partnerships between the employer community and the
    relevant agencies.
  • Clarify and educate employers about the role of the Federal agencies. Employers
    would greatly benefit from having a more streamlined set of resources that they
    can consult to find veteran talent, post their open positions, and find information
    about hiring veterans and other transitioning servicemembers.
  • Improve and increase uniformity in transition assistance for service-members. As noted in our testimony, guidance provided to individuals leaving the military
    should prepare them for what employers need to hire, including translation of
    military skills, interviewing techniques, and job-search advice. Having a more
    uniform system understood by both employers and transitioning servicemembers
    would benefit them both.

Thank you for this opportunity to come before you and assure you that the human
resource profession does appreciate the importance of the challenge
before us, and we look forward to partnering with you in achieving a smooth transition
for every returning veteran.

I welcome your questions.


[1] Society for Human Resource Management
Poll (2010): “Employing Military Personnel and Recruiting Veterans—Attitudes and
Practices.”


Prepared Statement of George
Ondick, Executive Director, Department of Ohio, American Veterans (AMVETS)

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner and distinguished Members of the
Committee,
on behalf of the Department of Ohio AMVETS, I would like to extend our gratitude
for being given the opportunity to share with you our views and recommendations
regarding employment among the veteran population.

AMVETS feels privileged in having been a leader, since 1944, in helping to preserve
the freedoms secured by America's Armed Forces. Today our organization prides itself
on the continuation of this tradition, as well as our undaunted dedication to ensuring
that every past and present member of the Armed Forces receives all of their due
entitlements. These individuals, who have devoted their entire lives to upholding
our values and freedoms, deserve only the highest quality of care and programs we
as a Nation can offer them..

AMVETS was founded in order to enhance and safeguard the entitlements of all
American veterans who have served honorably, as well as to improve their quality
of life and that of their families and the communities where they live through leadership,
advocacy and service. Today I will be discussing one the services AMVETS has to
offer, the AMVETS Career Center.

The first AMVETS Career Center opened in December of 2000 and subsequently in
2003, AMVETS Career Centers became an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable
corporation, incorporated in Ohio to provide career, training and employment related
services to Ohio's armed forces Veterans.

The AMVETS Career Center was initially funded through a $100,000 grant from the
State of Ohio. The grant was supported by the late Ohio State Senator Eugene Watts,
a highly-decorated Vietnam Veteran who saw the need for the program and was eager
to provide this employment resource to Ohio veterans. The grant was used to establish
the first AMVETS Career Center at the Department of Ohio AMVETS headquarters in
Columbus. Further funding of the Ohio AMVETS Career Center has been provided through
the sale of “Charitable Instant Bingo” tickets, which under State law specifies
that a portion of the sales profit be donated to a 501(c)(3) organization, in this
instance the AMVETS Career Center.

The AMVETS Career Center provides free career services to men and women who have
served their country honorably. This includes honorably discharged veterans, active
duty military personnel and members of the National Guard and Reserve. No services
can be provided without evidence of honorable military service.

The initial concept for the AMVETS Career Center was to provide training and
assistance to returning veterans, as they applied for their licenses and/or certifications
for the training they had received in the military. We soon discovered that our
veterans also needed stop gap training, resume development, interviewing skills,
basic computer skills and assistance in other vital areas of the overall employment
process.

The AMVETS Career Center originally provided this training through the use of
CD-based programs, which quickly proved to be cumbersome and inefficient. We then
entered into an agreement with Mindleaders, then the largest provider of online
courses in the United States, to provide the AMVETS Career Center with the necessary
courses to assist our veterans. The AMVETS Career Center paid Mindleaders for their
online services platform, thus resulting in our veterans having off site Internet
access to their desired courses through the use of a Web log in and password to
receive their desired course of study.

Currently, the veterans utilizing the AMVETS Career Center have access to
over 300 online Mindleaders courses. Once registered, students may study at a
local career center or any other place that has broadband Internet
service—including the comfort of their own homes. The veteran has no
out-of-pocket expense for the courses we offer, since the AMVETS Career Center
feels the veteran has already paid the price through service to our Nation.

The AMVETS Career Center not only provides career services to veterans, but also
provides free career services to the spouses and children of military personnel
who are deployed outside of Ohio. These services may continue as long as the
servicemember is stationed outside of Ohio, but must end when the servicemember returns
to Ohio. Family members must provide evidence that the military member is currently
on active duty outside of Ohio, which can be done through a number of ways.

However, the AMVETS Career Center does not provide free career services to anyone
who is not a veteran or is otherwise ineligible for services. Although some non-AMVETS,
local career centers provide fee-based services to non-veterans and the general
public, veterans and other eligible personnel always have priority of service at
all career center locations.

The AMVETS Career Center is not a government program. Local career centers
are located in AMVETS posts. There currently are 60 local career centers, which
can be found in AMVETS posts, VA facilities, Ohio Department Job and Family
Services (ODJFS), One Stops and in the Summit County Veteran Service Commission.
Originally piloted by AMVETS Department of Ohio, AMVETS Career Centers are now
located throughout Ohio, Illinois, New York and Tennessee. 

Since receiving the 501(c)(3) tax exemption status from the IRS,  the AMVETS
Career Center has been prohibited, by current tax law, from doing any sort of job
placement. We had initially provided job search and placement assistance through
the ODJFS prior to our tax status. ODJFS has a U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) grant
to employ Veterans' Representatives (Vet Reps) in order to provide employment assistance.
However, the grant mandates that Vet Reps are to only offer their services to veterans
who have significant barriers to employment. In 2009, ODJFS Vet Reps provided services
to approximately 5,000 of Ohio's 100,000 unemployed veterans. Veterans who do not
qualify for intensive services may request assistance from non-veteran representatives,
but they often are referred to the State's online job search site and for the most
part, are on their own.

Unfortunately, AMVETS Career Center record keeping for job placement is not
available since we are not permitted to do any job placement. However, AMVETS
Career Center has served over 5,500 veterans in Ohio alone since our inception
in 2000 and has further provided veterans with over 25,000 hours of online
employment training. After getting “job ready” at a Career Center, many of our
veterans have found employment on their own by doing job searches at an AMVETS
Career Center.

The continued constraints and problems regarding job placement, combined with
the Ohio National Guard having a large number of unemployed servicemembers, gave
cause for the AMVETS Career Center to initiate the “Ohio Veterans Career Assistance
Network,” or “Vets CAN.”

Ohio “Vets CAN” is a partnership between the AMVETS Department of Ohio and the
Ohio National Guard. Ohio “Vets CAN” was created as an online meeting place where
Veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve can link up with employers
who value and support military service to America. The Web address is www.ohiovetscan.com.

Questions I am often asked are, “So why was another Web site created, and why
do we need AMVETS, and why don't we use something that already exists?” The answers
to these questions are quite easy. First, Major General Wayt (at that time the Adjutant
General for the State of Ohio) asked AMVETS to create a program that would address
the employment needs of the Ohio National Guard. Second, AMVETS Career Centers already
provide no cost training to veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve,
therefore making a perfect match of meeting these needs. Finally, there are no employment
sites that exclusively address the needs of veterans and members of the National
Guard and Reserve.

 At www.ohiovetscan.com, Ohio Guard members can identify resources and organizations
that can help improve their civilian career opportunities or find employment.

Ohio “Vets CAN” is similar to a mini “Monster.com” without the fees. Employers
can register and post for free. In doing so they can access the cream of the crop,
potential employees who are well trained, accustomed to long hours, show up on time,
are loyal, and are patriotic. Guard members and our veterans know the meaning of
'an honest day's work' and have a track record of integrity, sincerity, accountability,
responsibility and trustworthiness.

There are some limitations as to who we will allow to post on this site. We are
limiting our services to veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve
and the active duty component.

On the employer side, we limit services to military-friendly employers. Military
friendly employers are defined as employers who understand the commitment to military
service, practice flexibility, and unconditionally support Guard members in the
performance of Federal, State and community missions. Military-friendly employers
recognize in veterans a high level of personal maturity, and understand veterans
are men and women who often have tested their mettle in mission-critical situations
that demand endurance, stamina and flexibility.

In October 2010, the Ohio unemployment rate was 9.6 percent. The unemployment
rate for veterans was 11.1 percent, with the rate for women veterans even higher
at 11.9 percent. This means nearly 100,000 of Ohio's 900,000 veterans are unemployed.
For recently-separated veterans, even after 2 years, their unemployment rate was
16 percent, far higher than the overall rate. For young (18-24 year-old) Veterans,
the news is particularly grim. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in
April 2010 that the unemployment rate for young Veterans was 30.7 percent. This
presents a large number of young unemployed Veterans in Ohio, given that over 17,000
of Ohio's National Guard and Reserve troops, plus 15,000 active military troops
from Ohio, are 24 or younger.

For the National Guard, large numbers of unemployed troops present operational
readiness and troop safety issues. Commanders speak of unemployment leading to housing
problems, an inability to pay bills and stressed relationships - all impacting a
soldier's mental health and ability to stay focused on military tasks. Since 2001,
the Ohio National Guard has lost more troops to suicide than to combat. National
statistics reflect this, with the American Association of Suicidiology reporting
that the suicide rate for the unemployed is two to three times higher than the rate
for the general population.

To help us address the needs of our unemployed and underemployed veterans, we
applied for and won a State AmeriCorps grant. The manpower provider in the grant
will assist us in reducing unemployment for veterans, includes helping veterans
better market themselves to employers and eliminating what employers see as barriers
to hiring veterans. Assisted by AMVETS Career Center (ACC) staff, AmeriCorps members
conduct outreach and recruitment activities to help veterans become aware of available
services. This includes outreach to ODJFS one-stop centers, county veterans' service
commissions, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and homeless veteran
programs.

Recruitment is followed by pre-enrollment assessments that enable AmeriCorps
members to evaluate veterans' skills and barriers to employment and assess their
employability needs. Results of the assessment allow members to enroll veterans
in ACC services or refer them to supportive services from other organizations.

For veterans receiving ACC services, the assessment is followed by the creation
of a Career Development Plan (CDP). The CDP documents the skills and interests of
the veteran, identifies skill deficiencies and other barriers that prevent them
from achieving desired employment and income needs and describes activities and
follow-up needed to ensure the veteran achieves his/her career goal. The AmeriCorps
member may refer the veteran directly to job development and placement services,
where the goal is to place the veteran into employment that allows him/her to become
self-reliant. The services may involve job search assistance or individual job development
that matches a veteran with a specific employer and/or job.

The member also may encourage the veteran to participate in ACC core program
services, such as::

  • Formal career assessment and exploration assistance.
  • Training that addresses vocational skills deficiencies, including classroom
    training, employer provide on the job training, vocational education services
    or apprenticeships.
  • Credentialing assistance that helps a veteran obtain licenses or certifications
    that document work-related skills and abilities.
  • Developing tools such as resumes, cover letters, job search techniques and
    interviewing skills that help veterans better market themselves to employers.
  • To help overcome employer resistance to hiring veterans, AmeriCorps members
    participate in employer outreach such as workshops, career fairs and presentations
    to business groups. Information is provided about hiring incentives and tax
    credits, on-the-job training funding and veterans' training programs. Efforts
    are made to match veterans with specific employer needs, with particular attention
    paid to businesses that are legally required to show veterans' preference.

Furthermore, during the first 6 months of the grant, the AMVETS Career Center
achieved the following:

  • Target of 250 veterans helped; actually helped 553
  • Target of 85 veterans in case management; actually have 115 veterans in
    case    management
  • Target of 25 veterans placed into employment; actually have placed 32 veterans
  • Target of 50 veteran-friendly employers identified; actually have recruited
    70 employers

Moreover, in order to continue the work of the AMVETS Career Center, we have
applied for a National AmeriCorps Grant that will provide us with
additional manpower to further expand our program to veterans in need of our
services. The grant is critical to the program, as this economy has caused a
significant reduction in our primary source of funding, Charitable Instant
Bingo. Also, recent changes to State regulations of Charitable Instant Bingo
have caused a reduction in the available charitable dollars. 

The average cost to the State of Ohio to provide similar services through the
USDOL grant is about $1,500 per veteran. This is in sharp contrast to the cost
of services AMVETS Career Centers can deliver for only $250. We believe this is
due to the broad network of volunteers and the partnerships and resources uniquely
available to the veterans' service community. With all the recent discussion of
fiscal responsibility, AMVETS Career Centers just make sense. With just a minimal
investment, we can expand and advertise our program to help more veterans reenter
the workforce and start to pay taxes again, rather than relying on government services.

Chairman Miller and distinguished Members of the Committee, this concludes my
testimony. I would like to again thank you for inviting me to participate in this
very important hearing and I stand ready to answer any questions you may have for
me.


Prepared Statement of Captain
Marshall Hanson, USNR (Ret.), Legislative Director, Reserve Officers Association
of the United States, and also on behalf of Reserve Enlisted Association

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Improvements to increase employment supported by ROA and REA follow:

Education:

  • Include Title 14 duty in eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
  • Exempt earned benefit from GI Bill from being consider income in need based
    aid calculations
  • Develop a standard nationwide payment system for private schools
  • Re-examine qualification basis for Yellow Ribbon program, rather than first
    come first serve.
  • Increase MGIB-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) to 47 percent of MGIB-Active.
  • Enact Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
    and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protections for mobilized Guard-Reserve
    students to adjust interest rates on Federal student loans of mobilized Reservists
    when the market rate drops below 6 percent.

Employer Support:

  • Continue to enact tax credits for health care and differential pay expenses
    for deployed Reserve Component employees.
  • Provide tax credits to offset costs for temporary replacements of deployed
    Reserve Component employees.
  • Support tax credits to employers who hire servicemembers who supported
    contingency operations.

Employee Support:

  • Permit delays or exemptions while mobilized of regularly scheduled mandatory
    continuing education and licensing /certification/promotion exams.
  • Continue to support a law center dedicated to USERRA/SCRA problems of deployed
    Active and Reserve servicemembers.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)/Servicemembers'
Civil Relief Act (SCRA):

  • Improve SCRA to protect deployed members from creditors that willfully violate
    SCRA.
  • Fix USERRA/SCRA to protect health care coverage of returning
    servicemembers
    and family for pre-existing conditions, and continuation of prior group or individual
    insurance.
  • Enact USERRA protections for employees who require regularly scheduled mandatory
    continuing education and licensing/certification and make necessary changes
    to USERRA to strengthen employment and reemployment protections.
  • Exempt Reserve Component members from Federal law enforcement retirement
    application age restrictions when deployment interferes in completing the application
    to buy back retirement eligibility.
  • Amend SCRA to prohibit courts from modifying previous judgments that change
    the custody arrangements for a child of a deployed servicemember.
  • Encourage Federal agencies to abide by USERRA/SCRA standards.
  • Ensure USERRA isn't superseded by binding arbitrations agreements between
    employers and Reserve Component members.
  • Make the States employers waive 11th Amendment immunity with
    respect to USERRA claims, as a condition of receipt of Federal assistance.
  • Make the award of attorney fees mandatory rather than discretionary.

Veterans Affairs:

  • Extend veterans preference to those Reserve Component members who have completed
    20 years in good standing, or
  • Permit any member who has served under honorable conditions and has received
    a DD-214 to qualify for veteran status.

INTRODUCTION

On behalf of our members, the Reserve Officers and the Reserve Enlisted Associations
thank the Committee for the opportunity to submit testimony on veteran and National
Guard and Reserve employment issues. ROA and REA applaud the ongoing efforts by
Congress to address employment problems faced by so many veterans and
servicemembers.

As contingency operations continue with increased mobilizations and deployments,
many of these outstanding citizen soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast
Guardsmen have put their civilian careers on hold while they serve their country
in harm's way. As we have learned, they share the same risks and their counterparts
in the Active Components on the battlefield, but don't have a guarantee of a job
when they return home. Just recently we passed the 800,000 mark for the number
of Reserve and Guard servicemembers who have been activated since post-9/11. More
than 275,000 have been mobilized two or more times. The United States is creating
a new generation of combat veterans that come from its Reserve Components (RC). It is important, therefore, that we don't squander this valuable resource of experience,
nor ignore the benefits that they are entitled to because of their selfless service
to their country..

The unemployment rates of veterans and Guard and Reserve have been increasing
despite the national rate slightly declining. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics
reports that in March and April of this year about 27 percent of veterans between
20 to 24 years of age were unemployed. Other sources show it to even be higher. The National Guard Bureau has reported numbers of unemployed returning Army National
Guard units with unemployment rates as high as 45 percent. The significance of these
numbers cannot go unnoticed or unanswered.

ROA and REA would like to thank the Committee and staff for making improvements
to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, enhancing benefits for caregivers, and much more.

EDUCATION

Post 9/11 GI Bill 

ROA and REA are grateful for passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational
Assistance Improvements Act of 2010.

Education improves a veteran's chance for employment, and many returning combat
veterans seek a change in the life paths. There is still room for more improvement
in the Post-9/11 I Bill that in the long run can make the program more effective
and increase utilization. For example, while Title 32 AGR was included for eligibility
while Title 14 Coast Guard Reserve was left out.

Other issues that student veterans have raised to ROA in which we recommend include
the following:

  • Require timely application and submission of documentation by the institution
    to the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) and vice versa.
  • Establish dedicated and well-trained officers for student veterans to speak
    with via the call center.
  • Better define the Yellow Ribbon Program to determine what 'first come, first
    serve' means in context of institutions (such as registration time, enrollment,
    and official enrollment).
  • Allow institutions to give more funds to students with stronger merit and
    need-base under the Yellow Ribbon Program.
  • Align the VA's work-study program for students to work as guidance officers
    at their institutions to aid other student veterans, to be matched up with institution's
    academic calendar.
  • Safeguard and implement a long term plan for sustaining the Post 9/11 GI
    Bill.
  • Ensure transferability benefits are protected.
  • Guarantee that any future changes to the program that could have negative
    effects on benefits will grandfather in current beneficiaries.
  • Pass legislation to disallow institutions including benefits in need-based
    aid formulations.
  • Remove the requirement to have a parental signature.
  • Establish parity between FAFSA disclosure exclusion over veterans' educational
    and non-educational benefits to CSS and all institutions of higher learning.

Institutions of higher learning across the Nation that provide need-based aid
often require students to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
form and a College Scholarship Service/Financial Aid Profile (CSS) form administered
by the College Board.

If an institution abides by the Federal methodology of determining aid levels
it uses the FAFSA form and guidelines, but an institution may use an institution
methodology (IM) formulated by CSS. By law under the Higher Education Opportunity
Act of 1965 (HEA), FAFSA's current need analysis formula, while including some sources
of untaxed income, excludes veteran's educational benefits and welfare benefits.

On the other hand, CSS require military servicemembers to disclose their earned
educational benefits for the formulation of their need-based aid levels. That disclosure
of veterans' educational benefits on the CSS is then often weighed by those institutions
that use an IM in the same manner of other traditional untaxed income items such
as child support or a contribution from a relative, in the formulation of their
aid package.

Disclosing these earned-benefits on the CSS profile serves to bring down
servicemembers' financial need level, thus increasing the cost out of pocket, by improperly
treating earned benefits as equivalent in nature and function as untaxed income
items. Since CSS is not restricted from asking for disclosure of the benefits, institutions
use the CSS to add these earned benefits into the aid formulation, shirking FAFSA's
and the HEA's intentions.

ROA and REA urge Congress to bar institutions of higher learning from
considering veterans' educational benefits in need-based aid calculations and
apply the Higher Education Opportunity Act to all financial aid practices of
institutions of higher learning.

Also ROA and REA support Chairman Jeff Miller's bill HR.1383 The Restoring
the GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011
which would grandfather in current students
who applied for benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill under a different set of rules.
While many may gain advantages under the changes in law, others are actually
negatively affected. For example ROA has received concerning calls and emails
from members that feel forsaken as such members signed commitments based on the
benefits which they now feel are reduced.

One of the most significant problems that link all issues pertaining to the Post
9/11 GI Bill is the lack of effectively trained customer service representatives.
One of the many examples came from two of our members that are married, both serving
in a Reserve Component. They wanted to transfer their benefits to their children,
but were told that only one parent can register the children in the DEERS system
and therefore only one of the parents could transfer the benefits. After going through
a couple back channels ROA found out that the couple needed to go to a DEERS office
and request an 'administrative' account for the purposes of transferring benefits.

There are many stories similar to this one which causes unnecessary stress on
the families, some of whom give into the system and give up the benefit because
either they are given incorrect and/or incomplete information or the hassles involved
are not deemed worthwhile.

It is absolutely necessary that our servicemembers, veterans and families have
the ability to access accurate and timely information. ROA and REA urge Congress
to enforce the VA to properly and effectively train their personnel.

Montgomery GI Bill

To assist in recruiting efforts for the Marine Corps Reserve and the other uniformed
services, ROA and REA urge Congress to reduce the obligation period to qualify for
Montgomery “GI” Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) (Section 1606) from 6 years in
the Selected Reserve to 4 years in the Selected Reserve plus four years in the
Individual Ready Reserve, thereby remaining a mobilization asset for 8 years.

Because of funding constraints, no Reserve Component member will be guaranteed
a full career without some period in a non-pay status. BRAC realignments are also
restructuring the RC force and reducing available paid billets. Whether attached
to a volunteer unit or as an individual mobilization augmentee, this status represents
periods of drilling without pay. MGIB-SR eligibility should extend for 10 years
beyond separation or transfer from a paid billet.

EMPLOYMENT

Employment Protections

Veterans and servicemembers are provided protections through the National Committee
for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), the Uniformed Services Employment
and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), and the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

Notwithstanding the protections afforded veterans and servicemembers, and antidiscrimination
laws it is not unusual for members to lose their jobs due to time spent away while
deployed. Sometimes this is by employers who go out of business, but more because
it costs employers money, time, and effort to reintroduce the employee to the company.

The most recent national example is in the case of Straub vs. Proctor Hospital
in which Army Reservist Vincent Straub was fired by Proctor Hospital of Peoria
due to his service requirements. The Supreme Court upheld Straub's rights under
USERRA.

Employer Incentives

Partnerships: The Army Reserve under Lieutenant General Jack Stultz initiated
the Employer Partnership Program with civilian employers that is an initiative designed
to formalize the relationship between the Reserve and the private sector, sharing
common goals of strengthening the community, supporting RC servicemembers and families,
and maintaining a strong economy. Over 1,000 companies are currently in various
preliminary stages of implementing partnership programs. This sets a model for businesses
to hire veterans. The program has its own Web site http://www.employerpartnership.org/
and provides job search, a resume builder, professional staff support, a list of
employer partners and career resources.

Periodic and Predictable: Employers need increased notification time in
order to better support their personnel. The military services and components should
provide greater notice of deployments to RC members, so that they, as well as their
families and their employers, can better prepare. Collaboration between industry
and the military needs to occur as the military considers deployment cycle models
so that the Nation's defense needs are met but its industrial base is not compromised.

Employer care plans should be developed that will assist with mitigation strategies
for dealing with the civilian workload during the absence of the servicemember
employee and lay out how the employer and employee would remain in contact throughout
the deployment.

CNGR: The Commission on the National Guard and Reserve suggested key recommendations
included expansion of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) committee
to be able to work new employment as well as reemployment opportunities, the creation
of an employer advisory council, and regular surveys to determine employer interests
and concerns over reemployment of Guard and Reserve members. Unfortunately, the
budget recommendation is to reduce ESGR's budget.

TRICARE as an employee/employer benefit:: An employer incentive is when
an employee brings importable health care such as TRICARE, reducing the costs for
the employer. Guard and Reserve members as well as military retirees should be permitted
to tout the availability of TRICARE as an employee asset, and permit employers to
provide alternative benefits in lieu of health care.

Another option is to fully or partially offsetting employer costs for health
care payments for Guard and Reserve members who are employed, especially when companies
continue civilian health insurance for servicemembers and or their families during
a deployment. DoD should provide employers—especially small businesses—with
incentives such as cash stipends to help offset the cost of health care for Reservists
up to the amount DoD is paying for TRICARE, with the understanding that the stipend
is tied to reemployment guarantees upon the serving members return.

Other incentives: Incentives of various types would serve to mitigate
burdens and encourage business to both hire and retain Reservists and veterans.
A variety of tax credits could be enacted providing such credit at the beginning
of a period of mobilization or perhaps even a direct subsidy for costs related to
a mobilization such as the hiring and training of new employees. Employers felt
strongly that, especially for small businesses, incentives that arrive at the end
of the tax year do not mitigate the costs incurred during the deployment period.
Also cross-licensing/credentialing would ease the burden of having to acquire new
licenses/credentials in the private sector after having gained them during their
military service, and vice versa.

While not under this Committee's jurisdiction we hope that the House Veterans'
Affairs Committee can support specific tax incentives to hire returning veterans
and Guard and Reserve members.

ROA and REA support HR.743 Hire a Hero Act of 2011 introduced by Rep.
Lynn Jenkins which would allow the work opportunity credit to small businesses which
hire individuals who are members of the Ready Reserve or National Guard.

ROA and REA support HR.865 Veterans Employment Transition Act of 2011
introduced by Rep. Tim Walz that would extend work opportunity credit to certain
recently discharged veterans.

ROA and REA support the concept of HR.802 introduced by Ranking Member Bob Filner
because it would recognize employers of veterans, but strongly believe that it should
be amended to include employers of Guardsmen and Reservists.

ROA and REA further recommend the following:

ROA and REA encourages the implementation of certifications or a form that
would inform employers of skills potential veteran and servicemember employees
gained through their military service.

ROA and REA supports initiatives to provide small business owners with protections
for their businesses to be sustained while on deployment, for example a potential
program in which a trained substitute is made available to run the business while
the member is out country. Further SCRA protection on equipment leases should be
included in the law.

Draft Legislation

ROA has submitted draft legislation entitled “Equitable Justice for Terminated
Veterans Act of 2011” which would direct courts to award reasonable litigation expenses
of USERRA cases to prevailing veterans.

ROA also submitted draft legislation called “Veterans Personnel Protection Enhancement
Act of 2011” that would amend Title 5, section 2303 U.S.C., to include willful violation
of USERRA as a prohibited personnel practice.

Note: the draft legislative pieces are attached to the end of this testimony,
and can be found on our Web site at http://www.roa.org/draft_legislation.

Captain Sam Wright, JAGC, USN (Ret.), director for ROA's Service Members Law
Center, has drafted 23 additional pages of legislative improvements to USERRA which
will be posted in the near future. ROA is also available to work with individual
offices.

SERVICE MEMBERS LAW CENTER

In the summer of 2009 ROA established the Service Members Law Center (SMLC) as
a source of excellence in the areas of employment and consumer law for active, Guard
and reserve personnel.

The Law Center's goals include the following:

  • Advise Active and Reserve members who have been subject to legal problems
    that relate to their military service.
  • Develop a network of legal scholars, law school clinics and private practitioners
    interested in legal issues of direct importance to servicemembers.
  • Advance world-class continuing legal education on issues relating to the
    Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Servicemembers
    Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
  • Broaden the existing database of USERRA and SCRA research.
  • In conjunction with bar associations, develop standards that will help to
    ensure that lawyers to whom servicemembers are referred for legal services
    have the requisite expertise to represent them effectively..

Recruiting and retaining members of the armed services, especially those in the
National Guard and Reserves, depends in part on assuring current and future Citizen
Warriors that laws and regulations are in place to protect them effectively from
discriminatory practices.

The Law Center is functioning at a modest but effective level. ROA is pursuing
efforts to obtain private or public funding and to identify public and private entities
willing to sustain this effort in order to expand this service to fuller capacity.
This is especially needed following potential cuts to ESGR.

As part of the SMLC and under director Captain Sam Wright, JAGC, USN (Ret.) the
Law Center maintains the “Law Review” data base and indices contain over 700 articles
on USERRA and SCRA issues (available at www.roa.org/law_review_archive). On a monthly
basis Captain Wright receives about 500 calls from concerned servicemembers, families
and attorneys. In March 2011 about 80 percent of the calls were about USERRA.

The Law Center's services include:

  • Counseling: Review cases, and advise individuals and their lawyers
    as to lawfulness of actions taken against deployed active and reserve component
    members.
  • Referral: Provide names of attorneys within a region that have
    successfully taken up USERRA, SCRA and other military-related issues.
     
  • Promote: Publish articles encouraging law firms and lawyers to represent
    servicemembers in USERRA, SCRA and other military-related cases.
  • Advise: File amicus curiae, “friend of the court” briefs on
    servicemember protection cases.
  • Educate: Quarterly seminars to educate attorneys a better understanding
    of USERRA, SCRA and other military-related issues.

The Service Members Law Center is available at www.roa.org/Servicemembers_Law_Center.

DEFENSE EDUCATION FORUM

ROA also maintains the Defense Education Forum (DEF). DEF produces and sponsors
a wide variety of educational events that number more than 30 per year. Some past
programs comprise employment and transition issues. The DEF director is Lieutenant
Colonel Bob Feidler, USAR (Ret.).

In fact in 2008 ROA published a report on continuum of service entitled “A New
Employer-Reservist Compact: Initiatives for the Future” that is available upon request.
 

Others events have included continuing education on USERRA, a joint issue event
on mental health care and the Army Reserve Employer Partnership Program, Commission
on the National Guard and Reserve and  others.  The Defense Education Forum is
available at www.roa.org/Educate.

CONCLUSION

ROA and REA appreciate the opportunity to submit testimony, and we reiterate
our profound gratitude for the progress achieved by this committee such as providing
a GI Bill for the 21st Century and advanced funding for the VA.

ROA and REA look forward to working with the House Veterans' Affairs Committee,
where we can present solutions to these and other issues, and offer our support,
and hope in the future of an opportunity to discuss these issues in person.

ROA and REA encourage this Committee to utilize the Service Members Law Center
and the Defense Education Forum and reports, both valuable assets, and to share
it with your constituents and other Congressional Members.


112th  Congress

First Session

A (House/Senate) Bill

To amend Title 38, section 4323(h)(2) United States Code, to direct courts to
award reasonable litigation expenses in USERRA cases to prevailing veterans.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short Title: This Act may be cited as “Equitable Justice for
Terminated Veterans Act of 2011”.

SECTION 2. FINDINGS.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1)  Under USERRA, a person who leaves a civilian job for voluntary or involuntary
service, in the Regular military or the National Guard or Reserve, is entitled
to reemployment in the civilian job upon release from service.

(2) Currently under this section of U.S.C., a Federal court may award
to a veteran who prevails reasonable attorney fees, expert witness fees, and
other litigation expenses.

(3)  U.S. Code 38 Sect 4323(h)(2) applies to actions in Federal court against
State and local governments, and private employers.

(4) Too often a veteran or reserve component member has to seek private sector
litigation because the Department of Labor is too slow at processing cases and
the Department of Justice can't handle all of the USERRA complaints that are
received.

(5) By making the award of litigation expenses mandatory rather than discretionary,
private sector attorneys will have increased incentive to undertake such cases.

SECTION 3.  AMEND THE LIST OF PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICES TO MAKE
SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO USERRA.

(a) AUTHORITY- Section 4323(h)(2) of title 38, United States Code, is amended
by striking “may” and inserting “shall.”

SECTION 4. EFFECTIVE DATE AND APPLICABILITY.

(a)  The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date
of enactment of this Act.


112th  Congress

First Session

A House/Senate Bill

To amend Title 5, section 2303 United States Code, to include willful violation
of USERRA as a prohibited personnel practice.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short Title: This Act may be cited as “Veterans Personnel
Protection Enhancement Act of 2011”.

SECTION 2. FINDINGS.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1)  There are 12 enumerated “Prohibited Personnel Practices” include in
Title 5, section 2303 of U.S. Code.

(2) A Federal employee can be disciplined by the Merit System Protection
Board (MSPB) by committing a prohibited personnel practice.

(3)  Number 11 on the prohibited personnel practices list is action that
would violate a veterans' preference requirement. 5 U.S.C. 2303 (b) (11).

(4) The Department of Labor does not include a violation of the Uniform Services
Employment Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) as a veterans' preference issue.

(5) Violation of USERRA would include discharge of a Veteran, National Guard
or Reserve member because of prior or pending service. A denial of a promotion,
bonus, or merit pay could be another violation.

SECTION 3.  AMEND THE LIST OF PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICES TO MAKE
SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO USERRA.

(a)  AUTHORITY- Section 2303(b)(11) of title 10, United States Code, is
amended by inserting after “a veterans' preference requirement” the following:

(1)  “or the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act” to
the end of this subsection.

SECTION 4. EFFECTIVE DATE AND APPLICABILITY.

The amendments made by this section shall—

(1)  take effect on the date of enactment of this Act.


Prepared Statement of Heather
L. Ansley, Esq., MSW, Co-Chair, Veterans Task Force, Consortium for Citizens with
Disabilities

On behalf of: Brain Injury Association of America; Easter Seals;
Goodwill Industries International, Inc.; Inter-National Association of Business,
Industry and Rehabilitation; Lutheran Services in America Disability Network

Mental Health America; National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental
Disability Directors; National Disability Rights Network; National Industries for
the Blind; National Rehabilitation Association; NISH; Paralyzed Veterans of America;
VetsFirst, a program of United Spinal Association

Vietnam Veterans of America

 Executive Summary

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Veterans Task Force believes that
meaningful employment represents one of the best opportunities for veterans with
significant disabilities to reintegrate successfully into their communities. In
the most recent survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on employment for
veterans with service-connected disabilities, 114,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan reported having a service-connected disability rated at 60 percent
or higher. Unfortunately, 41,000 of these veterans are not participating in the
labor force. Among veterans of all eras with a service-connected disability rated
at least 60 percent, workforce participation was 27.9 percent.

Typically, discussions about veterans' employment center on veteran-specific
programs operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Small Business Administration,
or Department of Labor (DOL). Veterans with disabilities, as people with disabilities,
who need employment assistance, are also able to turn to programs authorized under
the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), or, in the case of veterans with significant
disabilities, State vocational rehabilitation agencies (VRAs) and Ticket to Work
Employment Networks (ENs) under Social Security.

Veterans with the highest service-connected ratings and veterans on VA disability
pension will likely qualify for State vocational rehabilitation services. Strengthening
the connection between VR&E and State VRAs through the Department of Education's
Rehabilitation Services Administration is critical to ensuring that veterans with
disabilities receive the services they need to help them return to or remain in
the workforce.

Veterans with significant disabilities are often beneficiaries of Social
Security disability insurance (SSDI). As SSDI beneficiaries, veterans are able
to participate in Social Security employment programs such as Ticket to Work,
which allows beneficiaries to purchase vocational rehabilitation services from
an array of providers called ENs. Some veterans are dually eligible for SSDI and
VA pension. If these individuals attempt to use SSA's work incentives to
increase their income, however, not only will their SSDI benefit be terminated
but their VA pension benefits are reduced dollar for dollar.

WIA covers most of the Nation's major employment and training programs operated
through DOL. Several sections of WIA incorporate veterans' employment into its overall
mission. WIA has been slated for reauthorization since 2003. While progress has
been made, additional changes are needed to focus on the performance of the entire
workforce system.

Although many veterans with disabilities have the skills needed to qualify for
employment opportunities and advance in their careers, barriers to employment continue
to prevent these veterans from receiving opportunities. These barriers must be addressed.
Otherwise, training opportunities alone will not address the needs of those veterans
who have the most significant disabilities to allow them to reintegrate into the
workforce and contribute to their communities.


Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and other distinguished Members of the
Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify regarding how to improve employment
opportunities for veterans who are severely disabled.

I am Heather Ansley, Director of Veterans Policy for VetsFirst, a program of
United Spinal Association. Today, I am here in my capacity as a Co-Chair of the
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Veterans Task Force.

CCD is a coalition of over 100 national consumer, service provider, and
professional organizations which advocates on behalf of people with disabilities
and chronic conditions and their families. The CCD Veterans Task Force works to
bring the disability and veterans communities together to address issues that
affect veterans with disabilities as people with disabilities. Veterans Task
Force members include veterans service organizations and broad based disability
organizations, including organizations that represent consumers and service
providers.

Over the years, we have reached out to both veterans and military service organizations
to allow for cross collaboration and the application of lessons learned to new populations
of people with disabilities. Because of the intersection of the disability and veterans
communities that occurs when a veteran acquires a significant disability, the CCD
Veterans Task Force is uniquely suited to bring both perspectives to issues that
cut across programmatic and policy lines.

The CCD Veterans Task Force believes that meaningful employment represents one
of the best opportunities for veterans with significant disabilities to reintegrate
successfully into their communities. Unfortunately, for veterans with disabilities,
like their civilian brothers and sisters with disabilities, the employment picture
is not very positive.

The most recent statistics available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
addressing the cross section of veterans with service-connected disabilities illustrate
the connection between disability and veteran status on employment.[1]
In July 2010, approximately 13 percent of veterans reported having a service-connected
disability. Of those veterans, 729,000 reported having a service-connected disability
rating of 60 percent or greater. Workforce participation for these veterans was
27.9 percent compared to 53.2 percent for veterans with no disability.

Among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 25 percent reported
having a disability related to their service. Of those veterans, 114,000 reported
having a disability rated at 60 percent or greater. The workforce participation
rate was 63.7 percent compared to 86.2 percent for veterans without a service-connected
disability. Thus, 41,000 veterans of the current conflicts reporting a service-connected
disability rated at 60 percent or higher are not even in the labor force.

Veterans with Disabilities and Federal Employment Programs

Typically, discussions about veterans' employment center on veteran-specific
programs operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Small Business
Administration (SBA), or Department of Labor (DOL). The VA's Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program is generally available to veterans
with service-connected disabilities who have an employment handicap. DOL offers
programs and services through its Veterans' Employment and Training Service
(VETS) and SBA hosts a number of programs tailored to veteran small business
owners and service-disabled veteran small business owners.

Veterans with disabilities, as people with disabilities, who need employment
assistance, are also able to turn to programs authorized under the Workforce Investment
Act (WIA), or, in the case of veterans with significant disabilities, State vocational
rehabilitation agencies (VRAs) and Ticket to Work Employment Networks (ENs) under
Social Security. These programs are particularly critical for veterans who do not
qualify for VA's VR&E program.

State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies and Veterans

VRAs operate under the Rehabilitation Act to assist individuals with significant
disabilities in obtaining or regaining employment. Data from the Department of Education's
Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) indicate that State VRAs served over
63,000 veterans from FY 2006 through FY 2010 with overall successful employment
rates of approximately 50 percent.

Many VRAs have memoranda of understanding with their State department of veterans
affairs to coordinate services to veterans with disabilities. Some State
agencies have identified counselors with military backgrounds to serve as
liaisons with VA and veterans groups. In addition, VA is increasingly engaged
with State VRAs in
outreach to the business community to promote veterans with disabilities as a valuable
talent pool. Indeed, VA's own Strategic Plan for FY 2006—2011 indicated plans
to use non-VA providers to supplement and complement services provided by VR&E staff.

There are many more State vocational rehabilitation counselors than there are VR&E counselors around the
Nation. These numbers of vocational experts can amplify
the assistance available to veterans with disabilities if appropriate outreach and
partnerships are established and training is provided to improve cross-agency coordination.

Most veterans with ratings at 40 percent and below are unlikely to qualify for
State vocational rehabilitation services. However, those with the highest service-connected
ratings and veterans on VA disability pension will likely qualify for State vocational
rehabilitation services. Veterans rated between 50 percent and 70 percent might
qualify depending on an appropriate evaluation of the veteran's functional capacity.[2] 

Participants at a May 2008 Department of Education symposium on vocational rehabilitation
and returning veterans suggested that the potential exists for veterans in some
States to be bounced between State VRAs & VR&E. One way to address this concern
would be for VA to work with RSA to ensure accuracy in VRAs' acceptance of veterans
with service-connected disability ratings. It is our understanding that VR&E is
finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with RSA. Formalizing the connection
between VR&E and State VRAs through RSA is critical to ensuring that veterans with
disabilities receive the services they need to help them return to or remain in
the workforce.

Veterans and AbilityOne®

The AbilityOne® Program is a Federal initiative to help people who are blind
or have significant disabilities, including wounded veterans, find employment by
working for nonprofit agencies (NPAs) that provide products and/or services to the
U.S. government. With a national network of 600 NPAs, which work through NISH and
the National Industries for the Blind, and AbilityOne® projects in every State of
the Nation, the AbilityOne® Program is the largest single source of employment for
people who are blind or have other significant disabilities in the United States.
The Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled is the
Federal agency authorized to administer the AbilityOne® Program.

In 2010, the AbilityOne® Program employed nearly 48,000 people who were blind
or had significant disabilities, of which 1,700 were veterans with disabilities.
National Industries for the Blind, NISH, and AbilityOne® participating NPAs also
employed thousands of veterans outside of their AbilityOne® workforce. Through research
and development activities, specific programs are in development to address veterans
with traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and major depression,
as well as long-term employment support models. The AbilityOne® Program offers career
transition support, exploration, and development for veterans in transition along
with grants to prepare these veterans for management opportunities. Additionally,
the revenue raised through AbilityOne® contracts and sales is reinvested in rehabilitation
programs across the country, which help thousands more of individuals (including
veterans) with disabilities find employment.

The AbilityOne® Program has partnered with the National Organization on Disability,
which has extensive experience and access to wounded servicemembers in the Army
Wounded Warrior Program to conduct employment based research with veterans with
disabilities. This project includes collaboration with the Department of Defense
to match employment requirements to the research-identified career interests and
abilities of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom veterans with disabilities.

In 2003, VA's Compensated Work Therapy Program (CWT) signed an MOU within the
AbilityOne®Program as the referral conduit between VA CWT and the AbilityOne®NPAs
to collaborate with VA beneficiaries who have a disability. Approximately 2,100
veterans with disabilities have been employed since the partnership's inception.
The partnership agreement promotes local relationships between NPAs and VA CWT offices.
This allows VA to pre-screen veterans to match AbilityOne® job requirements and
to refer qualified veterans with significant disabilities to participate in AbilityOne®
job coaching programs.

TheAbilityOne®Program represents one of many programs supporting veterans and
is just one example of how the members of the CCD Veterans Task Force help to increase
employment opportunities for veterans with significant disabilities.

Veterans and Social Security Work Incentives Programs

Veterans with significant disabilities are very often beneficiaries of Social
Security disability insurance (SSDI). Veterans have earned the right to Social
Security retirement, disability, and survivor's benefits since 1957 when
military service was covered under Social Security.

According to the March 2010 Current Population Survey, there were 649,000
veterans under age 61 receiving Social Security benefits. Roughly three
percent—about 19,000—of disabled veteran Social Security beneficiaries are
younger than age 40 and 15.4 percent are younger than age 50. Older data from
Social Security Administration's (SSA) 2007 Annual Statistical Supplement
indicated there were 434,000 Social Security beneficiaries who were
service-connected disabled veterans rated 70-100 percent under age 65. Another
153,000 beneficiaries of Social Security were non-service-connected disabled
veterans under age 65.

As SSDI beneficiaries, veterans are able to participate in Social Security employment
programs such as Ticket to Work. Ticket to Work was created in 1999 by the Ticket
to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act. Under the Ticket program, SSDI recipients
are able to purchase vocational rehabilitation services from an array of providers
called Employment Networks (ENs). In return for assisting a beneficiary in going
to work and off of SSDI benefits, ENs receive payment from Social Security for up
to 60 months.

Three years ago, the vocational rehabilitation program created by Paralyzed
Veterans of America (PVA) became an employment network under the Social Security
Ticket to Work program in recognition of the fact that most of the veterans PVA
was serving are on SSDI. PVA's vocational rehabilitation program is predicated
on assertive outreach to veterans with disabilities early in their medical
rehabilitation process, rapid deployment of counseling and job search
assistance, lengthy follow up services, and leveraging of existing public
programs and private resources to support its efforts. Since starting its
vocational rehabilitation program, PVA has served over 800 veterans, with over
126 veterans returning to work at an average salary of $39,200.

Among the veterans PVA has served as an EN is “JM”, a 34-year old Gulf War I
veteran who acquired a non-service-connected spinal cord injury after his discharge
from the Army. On SSDI, he had been living with his father and had not worked in
2 years when a PVA vocational rehabilitation counselor met him at the San Diego
VA Spinal Cord Injury Center during hospital rounds. Within 8 months of entering
the program, “JM” was working for a technology company as a repair technician II
at a salary of $41,600. Fifty veterans have been helped thus far using Ticket to
Work and PVA has received $40,737 in outcome payments from Social Security.

Social Security Work Incentives and VA Pension "Cash Cliff" 

Some veterans and their spouses are dually eligible for SSDI and VA pension.
These individuals may have had low paying jobs during their work life or not have
had an extensive earnings history. As a result, they have a small SSDI benefit based
on that work record. These benefits will offset any VA pension payments up to the
allowed pension level. This dual eligibility can have ramifications for those who
want to work.

VA pension is often likened to Social Security's Supplemental Security Income
(SSI) program, a means-tested income support program. SSI work incentives allow
beneficiaries to work while gradually phasing out their benefits as their
earnings rise. Unlike SSI, though, VA pensioners face a "cash cliff" similar to
that experienced by beneficiaries on SSDI in which benefits are terminated once
an individual crosses an established earnings limit. If these individuals
attempt to use SSA's work incentives to increase their income, not only will
their SSDI benefit be terminated but their VA pension benefits are reduced
dollar for dollar by their earnings.

Over 20 years ago, under P.L. 98-543, Congress authorized VA to undertake a 4
year pilot program of vocational training for veterans awarded VA pension.
Modeled on SSA's trial work period, veterans in the pilot were allowed to retain
eligibility for pension up to 12 months after obtaining employment. In addition,
they remained eligible for VA health care up to 3 years after their pension
terminated because of employment. Running from 1985 to 1989, this pilot program
achieved some modest success. However, it was discontinued because, prior to VA
eligibility reform, most catastrophically-disabled veterans were reluctant to
risk their access to VA health care by working. 

The VA Office of Policy, Planning and Preparedness examined the VA pension program
in 2002 and, though small in number, seven percent of unemployed veterans on pension
and nine percent of veteran spouses on pension cited the dollar-for-dollar reduction
in VA pension benefits as a disincentive to work.[3]
Now that veterans with catastrophic non-service-connected disabilities retain access
to VA health care, work incentives for the VA pension program should be re-examined
and policies toward earnings should be changed to parallel those in the SSI program.

Workforce Investment Act

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) covers most of the Nation's major employment
and training programs operated through DOL. DOL's VETS is known as the primary veterans
program within the workforce system. Several sections of WIA seek to incorporate
veterans' employment concerns into its overall mission as the engine for this
Nation's
workforce development system. VETS is a mandatory partner in State workforce systems
under the Act and Section 168 of WIA established the Veterans' Workforce Investment
Program (VWIP) which was intended to amplify workforce activities to veterans that
were not adequately provided through public providers. Subtitle B—Linkages to
Other Programs, Section 322, requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to coordinate
with DOL in implementing various provisions of WIA. Numerous references to veterans
throughout WIA indicate Congressional intent that the workforce system account for
the employment success of veterans and veterans with disabilities.

An MOU signed in 2005 by VA and DOL aimed to foster better coordination of services
between the two agencies in serving veterans. At a hearing before the Economic Opportunity
Subcommittee in 2009, John McWilliam, Deputy Assistant Secretary for VETS, outlined
the work of a Joint Workgroup established after the 2005 MOU with VA. The objective
of this workgroup was to develop performance measures for the VETS and VA partnership
and to engage in joint data collection, analyses, and reports of progress. Statistics
from 2008 highlighted in his testimony indicated that there were over 7,000 veterans
referred from VR&E to State workforce agencies, a little over 6,000 were registered
by the State workforce agency and some 3,500 entered employment at an average entry
wage of $16 an hour.

Such coordination between VA and DOL in addressing the employment needs of
veterans with disabilities is commendable. However, further analysis should have
been carried out to determine what happened to the 1,000 veterans who dropped
out somewhere between the VA and the State workforce system or why only a little
over half of the veterans referred by VA to a State agency entered employment.
Moreover, these figures only relate to veterans deemed eligible for VR&E. How
many veterans with non-service-connected disabilities or those with
service-connected disabilities ineligible for VR&E have been served by State
workforce systems and placed into employment? These veterans have served their
Nation honorably but their employment successes and challenges do not always
receive as much attention.

Another example of increased collaboration between DOL workforce programs for
people with disabilities and those serving veterans involved the Disability Program
Navigators (DPN) and local VETS staff in Idaho. This project was highlighted in
a Promising Practices series published in 2009 by DOL's DPN initiative. DPNs are
staff located in WIA One Stop Career Centers tasked with helping customers with
disabilities traverse the array of job training and placement services available,
evaluate Social Security benefits and work incentives programs, obtain assistive
technology and workplace accommodations, and connect with private disability provider
and advocacy groups.

Effective January 19, 2009, VETS issued a final rule on priority of service for
veterans in DOL job training programs. Priority of service was established in the
2002 Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA) and provides that veterans and eligible spouses
are entitled to priority over non-covered persons for receipt of employment, training
and placement services under new or existing qualified job training programs funded
by DOL.

To fully implement priority of service, DPNs in the Idaho One Stop Career Centers
worked with their partner Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP) and Local Veterans
Employment Representative (LVER) staff to meet with disabled veterans and their
families to identify the array of benefits and services available to them and to
support job seekers' employment goals. As a result of this partnership, DVOPs and
LVERs added to their knowledge of public and private agency services for people
with disabilities and the DPNs obtained valuable information about veteran's resources
that could be used to assist future clients.

Unfortunately, this example of a positive working relationship between components
of the workforce system is at risk due to current budget dynamics. Because States
have considerable flexibility in the implementation of DVOP and LVER services, these
staff are often diverted to other duties unrelated to serving veterans and veterans
with disabilities or may only be available at One Stops on certain days of the week.
If veterans with disabilities are to be served by the workforce system as intended
by law, then resources will be needed to make sure appropriate employment personnel
are available whenever needed.

Furthermore, according to figures compiled from the DOL participant reporting
system, the numbers of veterans served under priority of service has actually declined
since JVA passed. Statistics for individual States indicate low rates of exit from WIA intensive training services for veterans with service-connected disabilities.
We are particularly concerned over what this decline may represent in numbers of
non-service-connected disabled veterans going unserved by the workforce system.
Veterans whose disabilities occurred outside of military service are among those
who must rely on the WIA workforce system for assistance. Veterans priority of service
appropriately applied would go a long way in assuring these veterans receive the
help they deserve.

WIA has been slated for reauthorization since 2003. Many proposals for improving
workforce system services for people with disabilities have been made over the years.
Relevant to this hearing, is a document that explores some of the connections between
VA's VR&E and State vocational rehabilitation systems..[4]
In its summary, the report outlines suggestions for improvements that could apply
to all facets of the workforce development system including veterans, their family
members, and businesses that recruit and hire veterans. Among their recommendations:

  • Enhance outreach efforts to veterans with disabilities so that they are
    more aware of needed services and how to access them.
  • Begin to retool existing Federal, State, and nonprofit systems or programs
    to better address the needs of veterans. Build and maintain a comprehensive
    national and State directory of these programs and identify their purpose, the
    service they offer, and how to find them.
  • Create “crosswalks” for transferable skills from military occupational specialties
    to civilian jobs and create certifications of skills acquired in the military
    that can be transferred for college credit/certification.
  • Recognize the important role families play in assisting veterans in activities
    such as accessing needed services for their disability, identifying symptoms
    of undiagnosed disabilities and coordinating needed services.
  • Assist businesses with education about veterans, their disabilities, available
    resources, and points of contact when assistance is needed.
  • Streamline services to veterans, reducing redundancy in areas such as plan
    development, implementation of planned services, contacts with potential employers,
    and linkages to needed resources and contacts while providing a more “rapid
    response” based on the needs of the veteran and minimizing the number of people
    and programs the veteran must deal with.
  • Press service providers to become more knowledgeable about other programs
    and their services and points of contact at the local level to ensure more comprehensive
    access to needed services by veterans and their family members.
  • Improve post-employment outreach to businesses that employ veterans or assist
    them in returning to work after becoming disabled, realizing that it is the
    business that may first notice undiagnosed conditions.
  • For those who have not served in the military, expand an understanding of
    military culture.
  • Create “top-down” support among State vocational rehabilitation programs,
    VA VR&E, and DOL VETS programs through collaborative meetings and more formal
    initiatives such as: national and State workgroups, national and State MOUs,
    interagency training and education, and ongoing program evaluation and improvement.

An Example of a Disability Organization Expanding Its Mission to Serve Veterans

Many general disability organizations have historically reached out to and serve
veterans with disabilities. For example, Easter Seals, a national service provider
and advocate for people with disabilities, expanded its mission following World
War II to include adults with disabilities specifically to assist servicemembers
returning home with disabilities. Recently, Easter Seals was selected by VA to administer
its new National Veteran Caregiver Training Program that provides training for family
caregivers of seriously-injured Post 9/11 veterans who choose to receive care in
their homes.

Today, Easter Seals works with employers to help increase employment opportunities
for veterans. Easter Seals developed an online, interactive training program for
human resource and hiring personnel called Operation Employ Veterans that
highlights the benefit of hiring veterans and strategies for successful integration.

Easter Seals also works directly with veterans to provide them with the tools,
resources and information they need to help find and maintain employment in their
communities. Easter Seals' headquarters in Chicago helps veterans and their families
connect to services and reintegration resources through its Community OneSource
program. At the local level, Easter Seals affiliates provide job training, assistive
technology assessment, job placement and follow-up employment supports to veterans
and wounded warriors.

The CCD Veterans Task Force commends VA's Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
Gateway Initiative
aimed at helping qualified non-profits who are interested
in assisting VA in employment and other service areas. Despite this NGO outreach
effort, however, VA excludes NGOs and non-profits from competing for certain service
opportunities and makes it difficult for other NGOs to serve veterans due to its
overly bureaucratic National Acquisition Strategy. For example, several regional
services areas within the recent VR&E VetSuccess Program competition were not open
to non-profits. In order to benefit from the knowledge of other communities that
serve veterans, VA should expand opportunities to NGOs as appropriate.

Veterans with Disabilities as People with Disabilities

Many veterans with disabilities have the skills needed to qualify for employment
opportunities and advance in their careers. However, barriers continue to prevent
these veterans from receiving employment opportunities. Unless these barriers are
eliminated, training opportunities alone will not address the needs of those veterans
who have the most significant disabilities to allow them to reintegrate into the
workforce and contribute to their communities.

Although veterans with disabilities are like their non-veteran counterparts in
their employment disadvantages, there are differences as well. Barriers that prevent
people with significant disabilities from being able to work include lack of access
to Medicaid funded health care and long-term services and supports and loss of Social
Security benefits. Although there are programs that allow people with disabilities
to transition to employment, many are fearful of participating in these programs
due to concerns about the loss of critical benefits or the inability to find employment
providing sufficient resources to replace those provided under Medicaid.

Veterans who have disabilities that allow them to receive health care and service-connected
disability benefits through VA retain these benefits even if they return to work
because eligibility is not income dependent. VA disability compensation is intended
to do more than offset the economic loss created by a veteran's inability to obtain
gainful employment. It also takes into consideration a lifetime of living with a
disability and the everyday challenges associated with that disability. It reflects
the fact that even if a veteran is employed, when he or she goes home at the end
of the day, that veteran does not leave the disability at the office.

Although ability to retain VA benefits may lessen the barriers to employment
for some veterans who have significant disabilities, it is important to remember
that many of these veterans may also be eligible for Social Security disability
benefits. These benefits, which may include their own cash assistance plus family
benefits, are lost if the veteran returns to work. Other veterans who acquire severe
disabilities outside of military service may not be eligible for VA benefits and
are thus subject to work disincentives in other Federal programs.

Veterans with disabilities, like other people with disabilities, face other barriers
to employment that include misinformation about disability and misperceptions about
required accommodations. The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment
Policy (ODEP) has developed a list of myths and facts that addresses some of the
concerns that employers may have regarding hiring a person with a disability. Some
of the most prominent myths include concerns that the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) requires employers to hire unqualified applicants with disabilities and
prevents employers from firing employees with disabilities even if the reason for
termination is not related to the disability. Both of these myths are false.

Other myths that cause concern for employers relate to the provision of accommodation
for employees with disabilities. Employers may believe that providing accommodations
is costly and that this burden is particularly heavy for small businesses. However,
many people with disabilities do not require accommodations to perform their jobs.
The Job Accommodation Network, which is a program of ODEP, reports that of those
individuals who require accommodations, two-thirds can be successfully accommodated
at a cost of less than $500.

Consequently, programs that assist veterans and people with disabilities must
work together to ensure that all facets of the individual's disability are adequately
addressed to allow the veteran to return to employment. Veterans not only need programs
that provide them with the skills that allow them to succeed but they also need
placement specialists who can help potential employers to overcome concerns about
hiring a person with a disability.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify regarding the views of the CCD Veterans
Task Force concerning employment opportunities for severely disabled veterans. There
are many other veterans employment programs and initiatives being undertaken by
the public sector, private companies, and nonprofit organizations that we could
have highlighted. Our aim today is to convey to the Committee a sense of the many
employment programs that can assist veterans with disabilities beyond the traditional
VA avenues.

We encourage the Committee to continue its exploration of this topic and salute
your leadership on behalf of our Nation's veterans with disabilities. The CCD Veterans
Task Force is ready to work in partnership to ensure that all veterans are able
to reintegrate in to their communities and remain valued, contributing members of
society.


[1] News Release, U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics, Employment Situation of Veterans—2010 (Mar. 11, 2011) www.bls.gov/news.release/vet.nr0.htm.

[2]] Proceedings of the 34th
Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation
Services Administration, May 5-6, 2008.

[3] ORC Macro, Economic Systems Inc.,
and Hay Group, Evaluation of VA Pension and Parents' DIC Programs: VA Pension Program
Final Report (2004), http://www.va.gov/op3/docs/ProgramEvaluations/Pension.pdf.

[4] 34th Institute on Rehabilitation
Issues, When Johnny (or Jeannie) Comes Marching Home . . . and Back to Work: Linking
Veterans Affairs and State Vocational Rehabilitation Services for Service Men and
Women (2009), http://iriforum.org/download/34IRI.pdf.


Prepared Statement of Major General
James D. Tyre, ARNG, Assistant Adjutant General, Florida Army National Guard, United
States Army National Guard

Executive Summary

Overview: The Florida National Guard (FLNG) remains challenged with unemployment
among its 12,000 servicemembers. Through the support of legislators, a number
of programs have been made available to assist transitioning servicemembers find
employment. While the FLNG has experienced some improvements, the need exists to
explore options to enhance and expand current processes, with an emphasis on follow-up
in the 6-24 months after separation.

  • FLNG Employment. The 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team
    redeployed in December 2010 and reported a 30 percent unemployment rate among its members. A FLNG survey conducted in January 2011 indicated a 17 percent rate among Soldiers
    of the Florida Army National Guard. A decline in available jobs and a steadily
    growing population of veterans contributes to the unemployment issue.
  • What We Are Doing Now. FLNG has long-standing partnerships with several
    State and Federal agencies, as well as a number of private and non-profit organizations.
    The FLNG Adjutant General established the Florida Guard Family Career Connection
    (FGFCC) in the fall of 2010 to link servicemembers with the Employer Partnership
    for Armed Services and Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation. This program
    also assisted servicemembers with employment-seeking skills and job placement.
  • What Else Can Be Done. Several agencies focus on assisting
    servicemembers with employment challenges, and most military installations provide
    transition services to separating servicemembers. Guardsmen lack the
    facility-based programs that are traditionally provided to the active
    component. The FLNG vision, properly resourced, is to establish a local,
    accessible source in our communities that integrates services and programs,
    and links Guardsmen to employers.
  • Importance of Employing National Guard Soldiers. Employers who hire
    National Guard servicemembers enjoy economic and other intangible advantages.
    A Guardsman is a worker that is already trained at the journeyman-level, and
    who has access to medical benefits outside of the workplace. Further, a Guardsman
    is a disciplined, drug-free, physically-fit leader and role model for other
    employees.
  • Building Resiliency. Service and Family member well-being remains
    a top priority for the FLNG. Unemployment is just one factor of several that
    contributes to an elevated rate of divorce, suicide and other challenges for
    members of all military services and components. The FLNG is committed to mitigating
    these issues in order to maintain a ready and reliable force for the Nation.

1. Opening Remarks

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, distinguished Members of the
Committee;
I am honored to appear before you today, on behalf of the Adjutant General of Florida,
Major General Emmett Titshaw and the 12,000 members of the Florida National Guard.

I welcome the opportunity to illustrate, through our story, a picture that is
likely common across all of our States and territories. Over the last 6 months,
our units have returned home after the largest mobilization of the Florida National
Guard since World War II. We have served our Nation in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait,
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the Horn of Africa, as well as here in the National Capital
Region and other regions of the globe. Guardsmen have proudly answered the call
when needed but have returned home to face a different threat; unemployment. Closing
businesses, fewer jobs and an overall economic decline have contributed to the struggle
associated with redeployment of our forces. A number of great Federal, State and
private programs exist to assist Guardsmen transitioning back to civilian life.
The challenge that remains is finding or creating a link that joins our unemployed
Guardsmen with existing resources or programs that result in a viable career. Through
various testimonies over the past several months, the National Guard has presented
evidence of our enduring value to the Nation, through our contributions to the Nation's
defense at home and abroad, and by way of a ready and an accessible force. To maintain
this cost-efficient resource, we must ensure our National Guard members are able
to sustain and support their families with reliable, quality employment.

2. FLNG Employment Circumstances

Historically, unemployment ranges from roughly 14 percent-38 percent across redeploying units
of the Florida National Guard. In January 2011, The Florida National Guard initiated
a statewide assessment of the unemployment rate among our units. To date, our surveys
identified over 1,700 Soldiers who responded that they are unemployed. This represents
17 percent of our Army National Guard force. The majority of these Guardsmen have been
redeployed since July 2010. The 533rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team has
been our largest redeploying unit with locations from Miami to Panama City. This
unit returned this past December with more than 30 percent expressing civilian employment
challenges.

Though our detailed assessment of causes continues, the reasons are varied and
include business closures, downsizing, and other economic factors that have impacted
the entire Nation. Further, we have identified the greatest challenges to employment
emerge months or years after the servicemember returns home. Currently there is
no enduring program at the local level to address this need. During this economic
downturn Florida has lost more than 900,000 nonagricultural jobs. According to the
Office of Actuary, Department of the Veterans Administration, Florida has the fastest
growing veterans' population in the Nation, with almost 1.7 million veterans. There
are more than 139,000 active, reserve and National Guard servicemembers who claim
Florida as their home State of residence. The combination of decreasing jobs and
a growing population of veterans contributes to the unemployment issue.

3. What We Are Doing Now

The Florida National Guard has successfully partnered on employment issues for
many years with corporations such as Home Depot, CSX, and Lowes. Employer Support
of the Guard and Reserve, Troops to Teachers, Helmets to Hard Hats and the Agency
for Workforce Innovation, are some public and private organizations and programs
that have also partnered with the Florida National Guard through our reintegration
events which evolved into the Yellow Ribbon Program.

In the fall of 2010, with the return of a large number of Florida National Guard
units, The Adjutant General of Florida established the Florida Guard Family Career
Connection (FGFCC), which joined with the Employer Partnership for Armed Services
and Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation, to assist our Soldiers and Airmen.
These organizations registered approximately 450 returning Infantry Brigade Soldiers
with their respective employment agencies and also provided resume and cover letter
writing classes so Soldiers could immediately post their resumes for any open position
they found. The Soldiers also had access to a consolidated employment Web site and
were able to add their resumes to well known employment search engines. Despite
these efforts, our Guardsmen continue to experience employment challenges, and we
have discovered that many of these actually begin to materialize 6-24 months after
redeployment.

The Florida National Guard is authorized one uniformed and two contract employees
working in the capacity of Transition Assistance Advisors (TAA). These individuals
have the responsibility to ensure the 12,000 servicemembers are aware of the different
benefits available after a deployment, and are challenged by these large numbers.
In addition to the TAA, the Florida Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee
is responsible for gaining and maintaining employer support for Guard and Reserve.
Through their Ombudsman, they work on the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment
Rights Act (USERRA) issue resolution with Florida employers. Since October 2010
the ESGR has successfully resolved 77 USERRA cases. We currently have 3 cases pending
resolution.

4. What Else Can Be Done

We're proud of the progress we have made in engaging our servicemembers and
linking them to employers through the resources that I just highlighted. We believe,
however, that there are still some measures that can be taken to enhance our ability
to foster these relationships.

Developing incentives for employers to seek out and hire National Guardsmen would
begin to address the needs of the businesses that do support the National Guard
, and encourage those that would like to support , but cannot afford to during these
tough economic times. While a servicemember is deployed many businesses must hire
a temporary employee to take the servicemember's civilian job. This creates a dilemma
for the employer who must compensate for the loss of this highly skilled employee.
Perhaps something can be done for these employers to reduce this burden. Due to
recurring deployments this incentive should be perpetual.

We are watching with interest several individual State programs that have already
demonstrated value, but may be at risk of future funding. Identifying and adequately
resourcing the successful ones is vital. One program, the Job Connection Education
Program (JCEP) is funded through the Army National Guard, and piloted in the
State
of Texas. Since its establishment in March 2010, over 350 Soldiers have been placed
in jobs directly through the services of JCEP , and on average, are earning twice
the wages of other veterans placed by the Texas Workforce Commission. Focusing
on identifying and translating military experience into civilian job skills,
many beneficiaries of this program have transitioned to careers as journeymen,
rather than low-wage jobs as entry-level employees. This program is an adaptive
process, continuously analyzing and discarding those activities that are
ineffective, and enhancing those that work. It has progressed from placing just
4 veterans per month, to most recently over 50 per month into valuable careers.

The Washington State National Guard instituted a similar full-time employment
transition initiative to help link various programs for transitioning
servicemembers.
In 6 months, this program helped to employ 583 Guardsmen. Other examples of employment
resources such as Direct Employers, the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces
and Save Our Veterans are available online and are tailored to assist veterans with
translating military experience into civilian skill sets and connecting
servicemembers to employers.

However; without sustained resourcing, centralized planning, decentralized delivery
and an individually-tailored plan, servicemembers may miss opportunities just for
lack of knowing “where to go.”

For Florida National Guardsmen, we envision a one-stop shop that integrates complementary
systems and locally ties them to employers. This program would provide an attractive
menu of available skill sets to employers and convey the benefits of hiring Guardsmen.
It would enable them to fill vacant positions and potentially create growth by presenting
options to expand with more affordable costs. Additionally, this program would provide
transition services to Guardsmen in an environment that eases the navigation through
the numerous resources that are already available. Our armories and facilities,
if properly resourced, are well-suited to house this type of enterprise because
of their local ties to communities.

5. Importance of Employing National Guard Soldiers

The programs I've highlighted are just a few, and obviously require appropriate
resourcing, but in the end, will pay dividends through other metrics.

Reserve Component servicemembers who are employed are easier to retain in their
respective services. We are at our peak of readiness, and the cost to replace and
train even one servicemember is immeasurable. The institutional knowledge and experience
that these combat-tested leaders possess cannot be learned overnight or even over
several years. We cannot afford to lose this generation of Soldiers and Airmen,
as the negative consequences will impact the readiness that we've worked over a
decade to achieve.

Employers of National Guardsmen enjoy several economic benefits. Guardsmen arrive
with trained skill sets, ranging from administrative, logistical, organizational,
and maintenance to engineering, health services, and information technology. Often,
their military-acquired skills exceed those of their civilian counterparts. Additionally,
many transition with the Veterans Administration or other military health entitlements
that may reduce the cost of employer provided health insurance.

In addition to the financial advantages of hiring Guardsmen, employers profit
from the intangible qualities these employees bring to the workforce. They are disciplined,
motivated, physically fit, and drug-free leaders. They are viewed as trusted role-models
in their communities, and help bring credibility to any organization.

Employed National Guardsmen are active in both their unit and their community.
In this dual role they contribute to the economic growth of society. In Florida,
more than $472 Million is injected annually into the local communities by the presence
of the National Guard.

6. Building Resiliency

Addressing issues of unemployment is just one means to tackle what has become
an issue of resiliency, not just for the National Guard, but also for other components
and services. Throughout the National Guard we have experienced elevated numbers
of suicide, divorce and other issues associated with physical and mental health.
Sadly, these problems have multiple components, become “migratory,” and ultimately
affect whole families, schools, and communities. As servicemembers redeploy and
transition to civilian life, hometown communities want to embrace them and provide
a support network for full assimilation. A locally embedded resource that is postured
to integrate employers, Guardsmen and other available resources to eliminate unemployment
among our servicemembers is critical.

7. Closing Remarks

On behalf of Major General Emmett Titshaw and the 12,000 Soldiers and Airmen
of the Florida National Guard, the civilian workforce, and their families, I would
like to thank you for your service to this great Nation. It has been an honor to
be with you today and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to speak on
this important issue. I look forward to your questions.


Prepared Statement of Ruth
A. Fanning, Director, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service, Veterans
Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and Members of the Committee, thank you
for inviting me to appear before you today to discuss the Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program. I am pleased
to appear before you to discuss the vitally important topic of Veterans' employment. We look forward to continuing our strong collaboration with this Committee and the
entire Congress as we work together to enhance the delivery of services and benefits
for Veterans with disabilities seeking to live independent and productive lives
through successful careers.

Overview of the VR&E Program

The VR&E program is designed to assist disabled Servicemembers in their transition
to civilian life and suitable employment and careers. Our primary mission is to
assist Veterans with service-connected disabilities through our VetSuccess
program to prepare for and obtain suitable and sustainable employment through
the provision of services individually tailored to each Veteran's needs.

VetSuccess Program: VR&E VetSuccess services begin with a comprehensive evaluation
to help Veterans identify and understand their interests, aptitudes, and transferable
skills. Next, vocational exploration focuses Veterans' potential career goals in
line with labor-market demands. This allows Veterans to participate as partners
with their counselors in the development of a rehabilitation plan that builds on
their transferable skills and ultimately assists them in achieving their career
goals. To help Veterans accomplish their rehabilitation goals, VR&E provides a
broad range of employment services including:

  • Translation of military experience to civilian skill sets;
  • Direct job-placement services;
  • Short-term training to augment existing skills to increase employability
    (e.g., certification preparation tests and sponsorship of certification); 
  • Long-term training including on-the-job training, apprenticeships, college
    training, or services that support self-employment;
  • Independent living services for those Veterans so severely disabled they
    may not currently be able to work, with the goal of exploring vocational options
    when each individual is ready; and
  • On-going case-management assistance throughout their rehabilitation programs
    to assist with any needs that would interfere with retention and completion
    to the point of employment.

Coming Home to Work (CHTW) Program: To maximize early intervention to assist
transitioning Servicemembers to achieve suitable careers, prevent underemployment,
and mitigate risks of homelessness, VR&E provides extensive outreach and early intervention
services through our CHTW program. Under this program, full-time VR&E rehabilitation
counselors are assigned to 13 military treatment facilities to assist disabled Servicemembers
in planning for their next careers. We also have CHTW coordinators in every
regional office working with Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Transition
Units and programs, coming home events, Guard and Reserve Yellow Ribbon events,
and Post Deployment Health Reassessments, with the goal of encouraging members
and new Veterans to enter programs of services that will assist them in
achieving their individual career goals.

The FY 2012 budget request includes an increase of 132 direct FTE to support
additional outreach and early intervention programs, including:

  • 110 employees are requested to increase VR&E's early intervention and outreach
    program in the joint VA/DoD Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). VR&E rehabilitation counselors at the selected IDES sites will provide separating
    Servicemembers with a mandatory initial counseling session, followed by continued
    vocational services for eligible Servicemembers who elect to participate in
    the VR&E program. Initial meetings will inform Servicemembers of the availability
    of benefits and services through VR&E and other VA education programs. In many
    cases, this will allow training and preparatory services to begin while the
    Servicemember is still in the IDES process.
  • Nine additional FTE are requested to expand VA's VetSuccess on Campus initiative. This program, already in place at eight campuses, supports Veteran-students
    in completing college educational benefits, such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, to
    assist them to complete college and enter fulfilling careers. VR&E rehabilitation
    counselors and Vet Center counselors provide strong on-campus support systems
    that include counseling services, assistance in accessing VA benefits, help
    in overcoming barriers that may include physical or mental health issues, assistance
    in connecting with other Veteran-students, and assistance with employment.

In addition, VR&E is in the process of modernizing the Disabled Transition Assistance
Program (DTAP). Program content will be specifically tailored to Servicemember
and Veteran audiences, and DTAP will be deployed in multiple channels, including
the traditional on-location base sessions, the web, and portable media. This new
multi-media-channel approach will make DTAP available to Veterans and family members
on a “just-in-time” basis. In addition, enhanced content will make information
comprehensive and more easily understood.

Transforming VR&E to a 21st Century Program

VR&E Service recently launched a transformation project geared to make our program
the premier 21st Century vocational rehabilitation and employment program. VR&E's transformation effort focuses on modernizing and streamlining services using
a Veteran-centric approach.

VR&E's transformative changes include allowing Veterans more choice in their
appointment scheduling through automated scheduling, and expediting Veterans' entry
into a rehabilitation program by streamlining and expediting the evaluation and
planning process through reduction of required processes and paperwork performed
by VR&E counselors. The VR&E program plans to release a knowledge management portal
to simplify counselors' access to regulations, guidance, and other policy information
needed to perform their jobs. VR&E is also developing methods and business rules
to move to a paperless processing model that incorporates self-service. All of
these initiatives focus on simplifying processes and streamlining the program so
that Veterans may more quickly and easily access services resulting in employment.

Working in collaboration with VA's Innovation Initiative (VAi2), VR&E Service
is engaged in innovative initiatives to build self-employment incubators and tools,
leading to more Veteran-owned businesses and self-management that will allow the
most seriously disabled Veterans to work in the career of their choosing and live
as independently as possible. We are also conducting a VA employee innovation competition
to allow the staff working every day with our Veterans to identify additional program
enhancements. Important partners in the self-employment innovation have included
the Small Business Administration and VA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business
Utilization.

Employment Initiatives

As illustrated in my testimony thus far, Veteran employment is the fundamental
mission of the VR&E VetSuccess program. Success relies on early intervention, smart
processes, productive partnerships, good rehabilitation planning, and retention
to the point that each Veteran is job-ready. Although all of these areas are vitally
important, the most important are those services that assist job-ready Veterans
to cross the finish line and land the career that they have prepared for throughout
their civilian and military experiences.

In FY2010, out of the 10,038 Veterans that were successfully rehabilitated from
the program, 51 percent were hired in the private sector, 33 percent were hired
with the Federal Government, 12 percent were hired with State and local government,
and 4 percent were hired with faith-based and community organizations. Of note,
79 percent of Veterans were employed in professional, technical, or managerial careers,
earning an average starting salary of $38,734 annually.

I would like to highlight some specific VetSuccess initiatives focused on assisting
Veterans to obtain and maintain suitable employment consistent with their potential
and interests.

  • Employer Education: VR&E staff work with all employment sectors to help
    them understand the smart business decision that hiring a Veteran represents. Veterans bring with them a high degree of discipline, an understanding of both
    leadership and teamwork, a drive to achieve the mission, and a work ethic and
    maturity that are difficult to rival.
  • Executive Order 13518: VR&E is working aggressively with government agencies
    and departments to implement the Executive Order to hire Veterans. VR&E is
    assisting these government employers in understanding special Veteran and VR&E
    program hiring authorities and promoting their utilization of the VR&E Non-paid
    Work Experience (NPWE) Program—an internship program that allows a government
    entity to “try out” a Veteran for a job at no cost. We are also encouraging
    them to take advantage of recruitment opportunities through VetSuccess.gov,
    a web site designed by VR&E for Veterans seeking employment and employers seeking
    Veteran-employees.
  • Private-Sector Employers: VR&E works with the private sector to understand
    tax credits, special employer incentives, and on-the-job training programs available
    when hiring Veterans, as well as the VetSuccess.gov program.
  • Career Fairs: VR&E participates in live and virtual career fairs. These
    fairs allow Veterans to meet large numbers of employers in one location, whether
    in their community or via the internet; view and apply for jobs; chat live with
    recruiters; and participate in job interviews on the spot or via internet chat. VR&E is actively marketing these job fairs through multiple venues. VR&E partners
    are also linking to the VetSuccess web site. Recently, on a Jumbo Tron in Times
    Square, New York, a partner advertised VetSuccess in conjunction with an upcoming
    career fair.
  • Troops to Counselors: VR&E developed the Troops to Counselors Initiative
    to increase the number of Veterans hired as Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors
    within VBA. This initiative introduces Veterans with bachelors degrees in human
    services, and those interested in the human services field, to the field of
    rehabilitation counseling, one of the top 10 growth industries. It will also
    fast track employment since students may be hired as administrative staff using
    the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) at any point during their bachelors
    and graduate programs, and hired as counselor interns once they enter the internship
    portion of their graduate programs. Participation in SCEP allows VBA to hire
    graduates noncompetitively. VR&E has set a goal that 60 percent of new
    vocational rehabilitation counselor hires in 2014 and beyond will be
    Veterans.
  • VetSuccess.gov: The VetSuccess.gov Web site has been enhanced to provide
    a one-stop resource for both disabled and able-bodied Veterans and family members
    to access services during transition, campus life, job search, and career attainment. The program also assists Veterans with disabilities to maximize independence
    in their homes and communities. The Web site includes a job board for employers
    desiring to hire Veterans; resume builders and upload tools that allow Veterans
    to utilize resumes already developed; a military-to-civilian jobs translator;
    aggregator tools for employers seeking certain skill sets and for Veterans seeking
    specific jobs; and a feedback mechanism to self-report employment gained through
    the site. The job-board feature of VetSuccess.gov currently connects over 68,000
    Veterans with over 1,500 employers. Veterans also have access through the Direct
    Employers Job Central career board to over 4 million jobs, with additional links
    to other popular and highly populated job boards. Other enhancements to the
    site include self-assessment tools and interactive maps that drill down to resources
    in the Veteran's community. Future enhancements will include self-assessment
    tools, an enhanced military-to-civilian-jobs translator, and linkage to E-Benefits
    effective next month, allowing self-service features such as checking the status
    of a specific employment application.
  • Stakeholder Relationships: Relationships with stakeholders including DoD,
    the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Education's Rehabilitation
    Services Administration (RSA), private and public sector employers, and non-profit
    organizations are vital to the success of the VR&E program. Key stakeholders
    such as RSA and DOL play significant roles in working with VR&E toward the ultimate
    goal of suitable employment of Veterans.
  • Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA): VR&E
    has several MOAs in place with local State Vocational Rehabilitation programs
    and is in the process of finalizing a national MOA with RSA. Our Employment
    Coordinators join the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation
    “NET”, or national employment team, opening up a larger number of employer
    contacts and employment opportunities for Veterans. In addition, shared
    training has helped to build skill sets, share best practices, and build
    networks important to success in job placement.
  • Department of Labor (DOL): DOL is a key partner in the
    placement of Veterans with disabilities. DOL's grant-funded Disabled Veterans'
    Outreach Program (DVOP) specialists and Local Veterans' Employment Representatives
    (LVER) primary roles are to assist job-ready Veterans with disabilities
    to obtain and sustain employment. In addition, these staff members assist
    able-bodied Veterans in their job searches. VA and DOL have an ongoing
    joint work group, along with State Workforce Agencies, which developed and
    rolled out a best-practice model and standard operating procedures, and
    provided training to staff from all organizations. In addition DOL worked
    with VR&E and the State Workforce Agencies to co-locate a DVOP specialist
    or LVER at each of the 57 VR&E regional office locations. The joint work
    group monitors and measures progress and successes and provides assistance
    to offices as needed.

Conclusion

VA continues to seek new and innovative ways to assist Veterans in achieving
their goals for full, productive, and meaningful lives and careers. Our focus is
on helping Veterans build upon the excellent skills gained through their military
service, providing streamlined services resulting in career employment. VA will
continue to work with all sectors of Government and private and public employment
communities to assist Veterans in reaching their highest potential in this challenging
economy.

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and Members of the Committee, this concludes
my statement. Thank you again for the opportunity to testify. I will be happy
to respond to any questions.


Prepared Statement of Hon.
Raymond M. Jefferson, Assistant Secretary, Veterans' Employment and Training Service,
U.S. Department of Labor

Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to appear as a witness before the Committee and
speak to you on Putting America's Veterans Back to Work.

The Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) proudly serves veterans
and transitioning servicemembers 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 that through programs that are an integral
part of Secretary Solis's vision of “Good Jobs for Everyone.”

For the purposes of this hearing today, I would like to elaborate on our
programs and initiatives that assist America's Veterans in getting to or back to
work.

Putting Veterans Back to Work—the Jobs for Veterans State Grants Program 

The first program that I would like to highlight for you is the Department's
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. The grants support two distinct JVSG programs: (1)
the Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program (DVOP) and (2) the Local Veterans' Employment
Representatives (LVER) program.

I am pleased to see that the National Association of State Workforce Agencies
is testifying today. Their members are core partners in the public workforce system
that operates the One-Stop Career Centers where the DVOPs and LVERs provide services
to Veterans.

In the Department's first JVSG program, DVOP specialists provide intensive employment
services and assistance to meet the employment needs of eligible Veterans. DVOPs
do this primarily at the Nation's One-Stop Career Centers funded through the Workforce
Investment Act. Our specialists also provide recovery and employment assistance
to wounded and injured servicemembers receiving care at Department of Defense military
treatment facilities, the Army's Warrior Transition Units, the Navy Safe Harbor
Program, the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program and the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior
Regiments through the Recovery & Employment Assistance Lifelines (REALifelines)
program.

In the Department's second JVSG program, LVER staff reach out to employers and
engage in advocacy efforts with hiring executives to increase employment opportunities
for Veterans, encourage the hiring of disabled Veterans, and generally assist Veterans
to gain and retain employment. They are often members of One-Stop Career Center
business development teams. LVERs also conduct seminars for employers and job
search workshops for Veterans seeking employment, and facilitate the provision
of employment, training, and placement services to Veterans by all staff of the
employment service delivery system. 

Last year, the JVSG provided services to nearly 589,000 Veterans, and 201,000
Veterans found jobs.

Putting Disabled Veterans to Work—Vocational Rehabilitation

VETS also collaborates with the Department of Veterans Affairs to support
disabled Veterans in the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)
program. DVOPs are outstationed at VR&E offices to provide employment
information to VR&E participants during their rehabilitation program, and refer
them at the end of the program to DVOPs at One-Stop Career Centers. The DVOPs at
One-Stop Career Centers then provide intensive services to referred participants
to assist them in obtaining employment. 

Besides working with job-ready Veterans, the outstationed DVOP is involved at
the front end of the VR&E process to help Veterans determine local labor market
information. This interaction facilitates the rehabilitation planning process by
providing the Veteran and the VR&E counselor with current data on salary and job
outlook as well as increasing understanding of working conditions for specific
occupations.

There is currently either a DVOP specialist or LVER outstationed at least half-time
in 48 of the VA Regional Offices and in 19 satellite offices. In FY 2010, 4,989
disabled Veterans who completed VR&E were referred to the State Workforce Agencies
for intensive employment services. Of these, 1,764 were placed into employment.

Putting Homeless Veterans Back to Work—the Homeless Veterans' Reintegration
Program

The Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program (HVRP) is another initiative to
assist America's Veterans in getting back to work. 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.

Putting Veterans Back to Work—Training with the Job Corps

In June of 2010, VETS and the Employment and Training Administration's (ETA)
Job Corps program developed a demonstration project to help younger Veterans get
back to work. Through this demonstration project, VETS and Job Corps offer additional
educational and career technical training at one of three specific Job Corps centers
to eligible Veterans and transitioning servicemembers who are 24 years old or younger.
Participants will receive free transportation to and from the Job Corps center,
housing, meals, basic medical services, and academic and career technical
training. When Veterans are ready to start looking for a job, staff will work
with them to find job openings and submit resumes. Job Corps will help graduates
for up to 21 months after graduation to connect with housing, transportation,
and other support services.

We have worked with Job Corps to streamline the program so that it recognizes
the maturity and life experience that our Veterans have gained from their military
experience. Job Corps employs a comprehensive career development training approach
that teaches academic, career technical, employability skills, and social competencies
in an integrated manner through a combination of classroom, practical and work-based
learning experiences to prepare participants for stable, long-term employment in
high-demand jobs. Job Corps graduates have the opportunity to earn an industry-recognized
certification or credential that supports the skills and knowledge gained through
career training.

Putting Veterans Back to Work—the 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. 

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.

Putting Transitioning Servicemembers to Work—the 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, Disabled
Veterans' Outreach Program specialists, and Local Veterans' Employment
Representatives as TAP facilitators. In the future, however, VETS will
transition to all skilled contract facilitators with DVOPs continuing their
involvement in the workshops as subject matter advisors.

VETS is taking the unprecedented step of completely 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. The
request for proposals was issued on April 15, 2011. Our goal is to have the new
workshop implemented by Veterans' Day 2011.

Last year, nearly 130,000 transitioning servicemembers and spouses attended
a TAP employment workshop given at one of 272 locations world-wide.

Putting Veterans Back to Work—Employer Partnerships

I am pleased to see that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Society for Human
Resource Management (SHRM) are testifying today. VETS created, and is implementing,
a new approach to employer outreach that involves pilot programs and partnerships
with both these organizations. 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 identify 100 hiring fairs exclusively for Veterans,
transitioning servicemembers 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
servicemembers and their spouses. The larger hiring fairs are titled “Mega-Hiring Fairs.” 
An example was the hiring fair in Chicago on March 24, 2011 that connected over
100 employers with over 1,000 Veterans, transitioning servicemembers, and spouses.

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.

Demographics of Veterans Placed into Employment by VETS Programs

In your letter of invitation, you requested specific demographic information.
Unfortunately, our reporting systems do not provide much of the information that
you requested. However, I am able to provide the following:

In FY2010, for the VETS' JVSG program, 13 percent of all participants were
recently separated Veterans, meaning they had left the service within 3 years. 

In PY2009 in the HVRP program, 6.1 percent of the Veterans had been out of
the service 3 years or less, 6.0 percent had been out 4-7 years, 4.9 percent
were out of the service 8-11 years, 5.6 percent had been out of the service
12-15 years, 11.3 percent were out 16-19 years, and 66.1 percent were out 20 or
more years. 

In PY2009 under the VWIP program, 22.4 percent of the participants had been out
of the service 3 years or less, 9.4 percent had been out 4-7 years, 5.6 percent
were out of the service 8-11 years, 6.0 percent had been out of the service 12-15
years, 9.3 percent were out 16-19 years, and 47.3 percent were out 20 or more years.  

The average salary 6 months after placement for Veterans in the JVSG program
(FY2010) was $30,804. We do not collect information at other periods of time in
the JVSG program.

In the HVRP and VWIP programs we collect salary data at three intervals. All
salaries provided are for PY2009.

The average initial salary for Veterans in the HVRP program was $21,133 and
the average initial salary for Veterans in the VWIP program was $31,533.

The average salary between 6 months and a year after placement for those Veterans
in the HVRP program was $22,818 and in the VWIP program it was $33,446.

You also asked for the status of the contract for the National Veterans' Training
Institute (NVTI). The request for proposals closed on April 21, 2011, and we are
currently evaluating the submitted proposals. We plan to make an award by mid-June
2011.

This concludes my statement and I would be happy to respond to any questions.


MATERIAL SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD

Committee on Veterans Affairs

Washington, DC.

June 22, 2011

Richard A. Hobbie

Executive Director

National Association of State Workforce Agencies

444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 142

Washington, DC  20001

Dear Richard:

In reference to our Full Committee hearing entitled “Putting America's Veterans
Back to Work,” that took place on June 1, 2011, I would appreciate it if you could
answer the enclosed hearing questions by the close of business on August 5, 2011.

In an effort to reduce printing costs, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, in
cooperation with the Joint Committee on Printing, is implementing some formatting
changes for materials for all full Committee and Subcommittee hearings. Therefore,
it would be appreciated if you could provide your answers consecutively and single-spaced. In addition, please restate the question in its entirety before the answer.

Due to the delay in receiving mail, please provide your response to Debbie Smith
by fax your responses to Debbie at 202-225-2034. If you have any questions, please
call 202-225-9756.

Sincerely,

BOB FILNER

Ranking Democratic Member

JL:ds


National Association of State Workforce Agencies

Washington, DC.

August 3, 2011

Honorable Bob Filner

Ranking Democratic Member

Committee on Veterans' Affairs

U.S. House of Representatives

335 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Attention Debbie Smith:

I am pleased to submit responses to questions raised as a result of my
testimony before the Committee at the hearing entitled, “Putting America's
Veterans Back to Work” which took place on June 1, 2011.

Please let me know if you would like further information.

Sincerely;

Richard Hobbie

Executive Director

Attachment


Question 1: How can we help employers understand the qualifications veterans
and servicemembers have to offer?

Answer: With limited resources, State Workforce Agencies (SWA) attempt
to make labor exchange services as efficient as possible. SWAs and local
one-stop career centers work closely with unemployed veterans to gain a sense of
their skills, and they assist them either to apply directly for available jobs,
or if needed, they offer intensive services up to and including training.

The SWAs have used web services, such as the National Labor Exchange (NLX) and
the MOS crosswalk page at O*Net, where employers and veterans can relate the Military
Occupational Classification with the private sector Occupations. Today much of the
interaction between job seekers and employers occur thru Web sites.

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) can help veterans learn how to communicate
with employers in ways employers understand, and make connections for potential
employment. Requiring all of the armed services to mandate transitioning members
to attend TAP would help prepare them for connecting with employers.

Promotional efforts to demonstrate the value of hiring a veteran and to better
define the qualifications of a veteran or servicemember need to be increased. Congressional support for such efforts would help to maintain this as a priority.

The employer tool kit developed by the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment
and Training Service (VETS) is an excellent start, but may need to be marketed better
to employers. The link is in a prominent spot on the VETS Web site, but could be
identified better with an icon or something to attract attention. VETS could promote
the tool kit more directly with employer groups and associations. The tool kit is
available at: (http://www.americasheroesatwork.gov/forEmployers/HiringToolkit). 
Many other groups and agencies also have developed employer tool kits.

Question 2: Do you think that employers are looking for a labor pool of
applicants with marketable and transferable job skill that veteran's lack?

Question 2(a): What types of jobs are most veterans likely to qualify
for and do those jobs exist or are there enough of those jobs?

Answer: To answer this question with any specificity we would need to
discuss the skills of specific categories of veterans. For example, if we look
at the education levels of veterans, we find veterans have a wide range of
educational backgrounds. In the four categories shown in Appendix A, veterans
have an education distribution equal to or better than the general population.

We do not have data on unsuccessful matches between the veteran job seeker
and available jobs; real-time labor market information and analysis may help,
but the ability to do this is just now emerging among States.

We have information on veterans who get training under the Workforce Investment
Act. The data show more than 28,000 veterans received services in program year
2010, including training, to help them gain skills needed to obtain new jobs.

Question 3: What grade would you give employers for understanding the
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)?

Question 3(a): What grade would you give to employers for USERRA compliance?

Answer: NASWA and the SWAs are not involved directly with USERRA. VETS,
especially the State Directors for Veterans Employment and Training (DVETs), have
the primary responsibility for the USERRA program.  Also, representatives for the
Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) assist in processing initial USERRA
questions and complaints. Workforce system staff members, especially DVOPs and
LVERs, are knowledgeable about the basic criteria under USERRA, and refer veterans
to the DVET in their State, or to ESGR representatives.

NASWA does not have specific data on program understanding by employers; anecdotal
evidence would indicate a good deal of understanding. The Society of Human Resource
Managers (SHRM) conducted a survey in 2010; the results are shown in Appendix B.

Although the SHRM survey is based on a relatively small sample of employers,
it demonstrates a need to improve education of employers about their responsibilities
under USERRA. There is heavy employer involvement in membership in
DirectEmployers, which partners with NASWA to run the National Labor Exchange
and VetCentral.

There is evidence from VETS that the number of official complaints filed against
employers has remained relatively constant for the last 5 years, which may indicate
at least there is not a growing problem. In 2010, there were 1,438 new USERRA cases,
plus 244 carry over cases. This compares with the following caseloads:

2005—1,252 cases

2006—1,434 cases

2007—1,365 cases

2008—1,426 cases

2009—1,431 cases

According to VETS, approximately one third of the meritorious cases each year
are resolved, one third of the cases are not supported by evidence, and one third
of the cases are withdrawn or were not eligible under USERRA.

Appendix A

Educational Attainment by Veteran Status

Percent distribution
Veteran status Less than a high school diploma High school graduate, no college Some college or associate degree College graduate
Nonveterans

14.3

30.8

27.6

27.2

Veterans

7.4

32.7

32.8

27.1

Gulf War-era II veterans

1.5

29.2

45.9

23.4

Gulf War-era I veterans

1.5

28.0

41.4

29.1

WWII, Korean War and Vietnam-era veterans

10.2

32.3

28.9

28.6

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, annual averages
2009, at: www.bls.gov/spotlight/2010/veterans

Appendix B

Bar Chart Showing How Familiar You are with the USERRA


Committee on Veterans Affairs

Washington, DC.

June 22, 2011

Jolene Jefferies

Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

DirectEmployers Association

9002 North Purdue Road

Quad III; Suite 100

Indianapolis, IN  46268

Dear Jolene:

In reference to our Full Committee hearing entitled “Putting America's Veterans
Back to Work,” that took place on June 1, 2011, I would appreciate it if you could
answer the enclosed hearing questions by the close of business on August 5, 2011.

In an effort to reduce printing costs, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, in
cooperation with the Joint Committee on Printing, is implementing some formatting
changes for materials for all full Committee and Subcommittee hearings. Therefore,
it would be appreciated if you could provide your answers consecutively and single-spaced. In addition, please restate the question in its entirety before the answer.

Due to the delay in receiving mail, please provide your response to Debbie Smith
by fax your responses to Debbie at 202-225-2034. If you have any questions, please
call 202-225-9756.

Sincerely,

BOB FILNER

|Ranking Democratic Member

JL:ds


 June 29, 2011

To:     The Honorable Bob Filner, Ranking Democratic Member House Committee
on Veterans' Affairs

From: Jolene Jefferies, VP Strategic Initiatives DirectEmployers
Association

Re:     Response to Your Letter of June 22, 2011

 

Mr. Filner, my answers to your questions are noted below:

Committee on Veterans' Affairs U.S. House of Representatives
Post-Hearing Questions for Ms. Jolene Jefferies From the Honorable Bob Filner


Putting America's Veterans Back to Work June 1, 2011

Question 1:
Are contractors aware of Federal Contractor Job Listings?

Response: Yes, employers who are Federal contractors are aware of Federal
Contractor Job Listings requirements. The affirmative action provisions of VEVRAA
require covered contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to employ
and advance in employment qualified covered veterans (38 U.S.C. 4212(a)). To implement
the affirmative action requirement, VEVRAA and its implementing regulations found
at 41 CFR Parts 60-250 and 60-300, require contractors and subcontractors to list
most employment openings with an appropriate employment service delivery system
and each such employment service delivery system is to provide protected veterans
priority referrals to such openings.

Positions that will be filled from within the contractor's organization and positions
lasting 3 days or

less are exempt from this mandatory job-listing requirement. Listing employment
openings with the State workforce agency job bank or with the local employment service
delivery system where the opening occurs will satisfy the requirement to list jobs
with the local employment service delivery system. The Office of Federal
Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is responsible for ensuring compliance with
requirements in VEVRAA that contractors list their employment openings with the
appropriate employment service delivery system. Employers know they can find additional
information regarding compliance with the job listing requirement on the OFCCP Web
site in the form of FAQs http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/faqs/jvafaqs.htm.

DirectEmployers Association, in partnership with the National Association of
State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), operates the JobCentral National Labor Exchange
(NLX) (http://www.jobcentral.com/). The NLX (http://www.directemployers.org/about/national-labor-exchange/)
was selected by NASWA in March, 2007, to provide job seekers, employers and
State workforce agencies a cost-effective transition from America's Job Bank (AJB) when
it was discontinued by the U.S. Department of Labor in June, 2007.

The NLX provides a wide range of employment services to participating State workforce
agencies, from job listing distribution to and from State employment web sites,
web traffic and search engine optimization (SEO) services and much more—all at no
cost. The comprehensive NLX network of 50 individual State sites is powered by DirectEmployers'
Employment Search Engine. The site uses advanced search technology to index (“spider”)
jobs from thousands of individual employer sites. When

job seekers click on a job title on the search results page they are linked directly
to the job on the company's Web site or a State job bank's site, depending on the
origin of the job posting.

As a parallel service of the NLX, DirectEmployers also created VetCentral (www.jobcentral.com/vetcentral/).
VetCentral is designed to assist our member companies, most of whom are Federal
Government contractors, to comply with the mandatory job listing requirements of
VEVRAA, amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA).

VetCentral distributes the new job openings each day to some 3,000 One-Stop Career
Centers putting these jobs directly into the hands of staff (e.g., the Local Veteran
Employment Representatives and the Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Coordinators)
dedicated to helping veterans find jobs. The job listings are sent directly to
the Center nearest the job location.

While the member companies of DirectEmployers Association are large and often
distribute hundreds of jobs each week, we have created a tool within VetCentral
to allow small companies to post jobs one at a time and have them distributed directly
to the nearest One Stop Center and veteran employment staff at the Center. The cost
of this service is underwritten by our members so it is free to the small companies
and costs the taxpayers nothing.

For a more detailed description about the JobCentral National Labor Exchange
(NLX) (http://www.directemployers.org/about/national-labor-exchange/) and
the accomplishments of the NLX, please see Attachment 1.

Question2:
Why is there no official list of Federal Contractors?

Response: The OFCCP does not appear to have an effective way within their own organization
to track Federal contractors and the contact names and information of each contractor's
CEO, the company's chief hiring official, the company's Equal Employment / Affirmative
Action compliance officer, and each State workforce agency's contact person for
affirmative action compliance. The OFCCP needs this information for assessing contractor
compliance with Section 4212 and their employment of veterans. To reduce administrative
burden, employers prefer providing the OFCCP with the chief hiring official's contact
information rather than each local hiring manager's name and/or a company contact
name on each individual job posting. Similarly, State workforce agencies prefer
that the OFCCP work through a single point of contact from each State agency, such
as an administrator or State manager, rather than working with a local DVOP or LVER
when a question about a Federal contractor's compliance audit regarding Federal
contractor job listings may arise.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has a Web site to track and publish
the names of Federal contractors (see Attachment 2 about USASpending.gov),
but it doesn't appear that this Web site or database is adequately and appropriately
utilized across Federal agencies, such as the OFCCP. Rather than creating their
own separate system to track much of the same information that the OMB is currently
tracking on Federal contractors, the OFCCP should leverage the use of OMB's database
to track and access the contact names and contact information for each Federal contractor
and each State workforce agency to ensure the right individuals from these organizations
receive data and information from Federal agencies when communications deal with,
or are about, the employment and retention of veterans or a compliance audit.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to these additional questions. Please
let me know if I may be of further assistance.

Respectfully submitted,

Jolene Jefferies

VP Strategic Initiatives

Attachments:

1—Description of the NLX and its Accomplishments

2—OMB Tracks Federal Contractors


Attachment 1: Description of the NLX and its Accomplishments

JOBCENTRAL NATIONAL LABOR EXCHANGE (NLX)

What is the NLX?

The JobCentral National Labor Exchange (NLX) is a sophisticated electronic labor
exchange solution. This online network connects businesses and State workforce
agencies in their mission to create a cost-effective system that improves labor
market efficiency and reflects our Nation's diverse workforce.

The NLX network connects over 5,000 large employers and their job opportunities
with the publicly operated State job banks—vastly expanding the number of searchable
job opportunities for jobseekers and providing employers the ability to meet
hiring goals. Further, NLX allows State operated job banks to seamlessly exchange
job opportunity content collected through the activities of State workforce agencies
business representatives.

How does it work?

In an automated and cost effective fashion, the NLX gathers currently available
and unduplicated job opportunities from verified employers and pushes that content
into State workforce agency sites to reach a maximum number of jobseekers. The NLX is not a destination point where you apply for a position, but rather a jobs
content provider directing jobseekers back to the where the job opportunity originated
(e.g., the job may have been originally posted on a State job bank or an employer's
corporate Web site). 

Who are the NLX Principals?

This unique public-private venture is the result of an alliance between NASWA,
an association representing State workforce agencies, and DirectEmployers Association,
an organization representing primarily Fortune 500 companies. NLX leverages private,
non-profit-owned technology with existing State workforce agency resources and combines
the agility and innovation of the private sector with the

public sector's ability to offer information and services in a trusted environment.

How does the NLX help employers?

The NLX plays an important role in helping employers build their workforce and
comply with State and Federal regulations by serving as our Nation's only online
cross-state labor exchange and distributing job listings to the State and local
level. It also helps employers meet Federal job posting requirements for Affirmative
Action Plans, Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), and Jobs
for Veterans Act (JVA) compliance.

By making their jobs available on the NLX, employers increase their recruiting
reach and extend diversity initiatives with a consistent and aggressive program
to make employment opportunities available to individuals from all cultures and
population segments.

NLX Accomplishments to Date

Created in March 2007, the NLX has brought substantive value to jobseekers,
employers and participating State workforce agencies.

Jobseekers have access to a quick and easy platform that gives them
free
access to more, currently available jobs, from verified
employers.

Employers can reduce hiring and resource costs, meet and exceed affirmative
action objectives, achieve JVA compliance, get free nationwide exposure, and have
access to a much larger pool of job applicants.

State Workforce Agencies have embraced the NLX with a total of forty-eight
(48) States, plus the District of Columbia signing participation agreements. Under
the oversight of the Operations Committee --a group comprised of State and employer
representatives, the NLX partnership has embraced the principles of transparency
and flexibility.

Over the last 3 years the NLX has:

  1. Delivered 8 million job openings into State job banks. State officials
    can access a Job Counter and view how many jobs the NLX contains in their
    State
    at any given day at http://stateadmin.jobcentral.org/statistics.aspx
  • This number reflects unduplicated and available jobs (not expired
    job orders).
  • This number does not include job orders originating from State workforce
    agency job banks.
  • This number includes 3 million Federal contractor jobs reportable under
    the Federal Contractor Job Listing (FCJL) program requirements.
  • These job orders are free of advertising of any kind.
  1. Provided an electronic bridge for State job banks to share
    job orders with one another
    . State workforce agencies can take a feed of
    job orders from neighboring States and State workforce agencies' job banks.
  1. Offered State job banks downloads of job orders coded by O*NET.
    This affords State workforce agencies greater ease in pursing future job-matching
    reemployment efforts.
  1. Offered State job banks free job order indexing as a service
    States can offer to their business customers.
    As a true national labor exchange,
    the NLX indexes a total of 5,000 employers who are not DE members. State workforce
    agencies do not need to purchase costly spidering packages, but can identify
    “indexable” business, notify the NLX, and download that file.
  1. Completed development of an Analytics dashboard tool enabling
    State workforce agencies to view transactional data about jobseeker searches.
    The tool captures: (1) the flow of jobseeker traffic into State job banks
    from the NLX, and the (2) flow of jobseekers from State job banks to jobs originating
    from employers' Web sites.  O*NET coding of job orders allows for in-depth
    use of data and the production of different reports.

Of critical importance is the ability for State workforce agencies to demonstrate
to specific employers that a State job bank is sending traffic to an employers'
Web site. Because DE can now show an employer the jobseeker traffic coming from
a specific State job bank, the employer is able to better track applicant referral
source information. This offers both employers and State workforce agencies
tangible information about the value of the National Labor Exchange and its
online self-services.

The dashboard is now available to State workforce agencies at no cost.

  1. Provided free hosting of State Job Banks. The NLX provides
    a free labor exchange solution, skinned to the preferences of a State workforce
    agency.  The job bank available offers flexibility in look and feel and can
    be easily administered by State workforce agency staff. In addition to cost
    savings, this option offers hosted States the full breadth of JobCentral services,
    such as free integrated extended searches*.  Currently, Connecticut, New Jersey,
    New York and Nevada are being fully hosted by the NLX.

*Extended search—a jobseeker's search criteria on the NLX are run invisibly
to him/her against other search engines. Results from those searches are offered
in a sidebar option to the jobseeker and not comingled with the NLX results.

  1. Built and Administered VetCentral Services: Under Federal
    law, contractors receiving over $100K of Federal funds, must list their positions
    with either the State workforce agency job bank or with the appropriate local
    employment service delivery office. Since not all States are in the position
    of taking an NLX electronic download and since even those that do
    download cannot keep an electronic copy of all job postings, the VetCentral
    service was designed to facilitate the situation.

VetCentral is that part of the NLX that emails all Federal Contractor Job
Listings (FCJL) jobs to the appropriate State staff at the appropriate local
employment centers (where Wagner-Peyser funding exists). This functionality
allows employers to generate a report they may provide to the Office of Federal
Contractor Compliance. Most importantly, it allows States to put more jobs in
the hands of

local staff and provide greater opportunities to veterans, while at the same
time helping the workforce system meets its own priority of service requirements.

The NLX has maintained a robust list of the appropriate local One-Stop employment
center addresses and contact information. In addition, the NLX partners provided
countless educational discussions with interested stakeholders, many times conducting
research on behalf of Federal employers and State workforce agencies engaged
in an OFCCP audit. Finally, the NLX has provided thousands of copies of VetCentral
materials to field staff.

  1. Partnered with the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
    Since October 2008, JobCentral, the job search platform powering the NLX,
    has also served as the job search engine powering the Armed Forces Employer
    Partnership
    initiative created and directed by Lt. General Jack C. Stultz
    of the

U.S Army Reserve. The initiative, which is in the process of expanding to
include all branches of the Guard and Reserve, aims at outreaching to employers
and bringing employment opportunities to servicemembers before they separate
from service. NLX has become the primary employment search engine for this initiative
and is provided to at no cost to the Department of Defense or the U.S. Army
Reserve
.

You may view the site at: http://www.employerpartnership.org.

This partnership has allowed servicemembers to connect with the workforce
system before separation, which can bring a potential applicant pool of over
one million servicemembers to State job banks.

  1. USAJOBs.gov: Since late September 2008, the JobCentral
    NLX is also receiving a download of jobs from USAJOBs. Sponsored by the
    Federal Office of Personnel Management, USAJOBs is a job bank containing
    Federal Government positions. This download of Federal job openings is available to
    States for inclusion in their own States job-banks. To date, the following
    States have requested the USAJOBs be fed into their own job bank: Alabama, Arkansas,
    Connecticut, Delaware, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota,
    Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah,
    Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. States interested in receiving this download
    may request it from NASWA.
  1. MySkillsMyFuture.org DOL ETA Partnership. On September
    7, 2010, in a press release (http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/eta20101216.htm)
    the Department of Labor announced the launch of a web portal to help job seekers
    called “mySkills myFuture.” DirectEmployers Association is proud to be the provider
    of jobs data to this valuable tool from the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment
    and Training Administration
    . The new tool, www.MySkillsMyFuture.org,
    is designed to connect workers with high quality training and local
    employment opportunities. DirectEmployers Association's jobs are now in both the U.S. Department
    of Labor's www.MySkillsMyFuture.org and www.CareerOneStop.org
    career sites.

Attachment 2: OMB Tracks Federal Contractors

Obama Administration begins publishing names of Federal subcontractors on
Web

By Carol D. Leonnig

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 1, 2010; 10:41 PM

The U.S. government is giving the public new details about how it is spending
taxpayer money on government business.

Starting Wednesday, the Obama administration began publicizing the names of subcontractors
-the companies that get the majority of Federal contracts -along with the dollar
amounts they receive. For years, the government reported only the companies that
won major, or prime, government contracts -even if those companies then hired subcontractors
to do most of the job. Now taxpayers can follow more accurately where their dollars
are going, tracing public money to the specific companies and communities that share
in multimillion-and billion-dollar Federal work. The previous dearth of information
about government subcontracts led to incomplete and sometimes misleading conclusions
about Uncle Sam's impact on communities.

For example, an agency may have boasted of awarding a $100 million prime contract
for debris removal after Hurricane Katrina to a homegrown Louisiana company. But
that company may have lacked the equipment to tackle the work, and then hired two
hauling companies based in Virginia and Texas to do most of the job.

The new subcontractor details are available on the Office of Management and Budget's
Web site, USASpending.gov. Recipients of all Federal contracts and grants
larger than $25,000 will be required to report the names of companies they hire.

The subcontractors' names are being made public as required by the Federal Funding
Accountability and Transparency Act, which became law in 2006 under President George
W. Bush. The information's' release is 2 years behind schedule. A smaller portion
of subcontractor information -for contracts larger than $20 million -was made public
in October. Both the Bush and Obama administrations faulted technical obstacles
for preventing accurate reporting and Web site publication of subcontractor information.
After the Obama administration spent tens of millions of dollars in 2009 to create
a public Web site, FederalReporting.gov, to track money spent on stimulus
projects -including subcontractor details -it cleared the way for the same information
to be published on standard government contracts.

Moira Mack, an OMB spokeswoman, said resources also factored into the delay.
Contracting spending dramatically increased under the Bush administration but the
number of contracting employees remained stagnant, Mack said.

Because of the law, the public will now learn if a huge contract won by a fledgling
minority-or female-owned company helped that firm or instead flowed to a well-heeled
contracting firm founded and run by a white man. The records also would reveal whether
defense work that was meant to help shore up an electronics company in recession-plagued
rural Pennsylvania was instead largely being done by a powerful defense giant in
Arlington County. Craig Jennings, director of Federal fiscal policy at OMB Watch,
an advocate for government transparency, said the public may learn good and bad
news about government spending with the new initiative.

"You really have to follow the chain [of a contract] to the end, or you just
don't know where the dollars are going," Jennings said. "Before this, sometimes
a city is listed as the primary recipient of a grant or contract. We wouldn't know
prior to this that the brother-in-law of the mayor is receiving those subcontracts."

In an April letter setting reporting deadlines for senior Federal managers, Jeffrey
Zients, then the acting OMB director, stressed the importance of the transparency
effort. "Full and easy access to information on government spending promotes accountability
by allowing . . . both the public and public officials to gauge the effectiveness
of expenditures," he wrote. "Transparency also gives the public confidence that
we are properly managing its funds." One day after being sworn into office, President
Obama pledged that his administration would be the most open in history -a vow made
in the wake of steady complaints that the Bush administration was too secretive.
Although the current administration has made significant progress in releasing public
information, it has faced its share of criticism that -like the previous White House
-it has been loath to release public information that may cast its team in an unflattering
light or hamper its agenda.

Jennings said taxpayers could end up feeling more comfortable about government
contracts when they know the nitty-gritty details. Instead of reading on a government
Web site about a vague $14 million transportation grant given to a State government,
taxpayers now can see how the State split those funds among 20 different road and
bridge projects in different locations, and which subcontractors did the jobs.

"All we hear about is stupid, wasteful government spending," he said. "But this
will likely show us how the money is actually coming to your city, even your neighborhood."


Committee on Veterans Affairs

Washington, DC.

June 22, 2011

Kevin M. Schmiegel

Vice President

Veterans Employment Program

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

1615 H Street, NW

Washington, DC  20062-2000

Dear Kevin:

In reference to our Full Committee hearing entitled “Putting America's Veterans
Back to Work,” that took place on June 1, 2011, I would appreciate it if you could
answer the enclosed hearing questions by the close of business on August 5, 2011.

In an effort to reduce printing costs, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, in
cooperation with the Joint Committee on Printing, is implementing some formatting
changes for materials for all full Committee and Subcommittee hearings. Therefore,
it would be appreciated if you could provide your answers consecutively and single-spaced. In addition, please restate the question in its entirety before the answer.

Due to the delay in receiving mail, please provide your response to Debbie Smith 
by fax your responses to Debbie at 202-225-2034. If you have any questions, please
call 202-225-9756.

Sincerely,

BOB FILNER

Ranking Democratic Member

JL:ds


U.S. Chamber of Commerce Responses to Questions for the June
1, 2011, hearing.

Question 1: You state that the U.S. Chamber and local chambers are uniquely
positioned to coordinate public and private sector efforts across America. What
is preventing you from starting the coordination.

Response: : The Chamber has been coordinating public and private sector
efforts across America since we launched the Hiring our Heroes program in March
of 2011. Our coordination efforts include engagement with the White House, State
and local chambers, the Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs,
State
workforce agencies, veteran services organizations, and several non-profit organizations
Since the launch of Hiring our Heroes at end of March 2011, the Chamber has
conducted 16 hiring fairs and connected over 16,000 veterans and military spouses
with over 800 different employers in 13 States. Detailed coordination was
required for all of those hiring fairs. Working with the local chambers, DOL VETS,
and ESGR, the Chamber held its largest hiring fairs in Chicago on March 24, New
York City in June, and Los Angeles in July. In Chicago, we connected 127 employers
with 1200 veterans and military spouses—over 200 of them got jobs. In New York City,
there were 106 employers and over 1500 veterans and military spouses. And in Los
Angeles, there were 160 employers and over 1600 veterans and military spouses in
attendance.

Question 2: Since licensure and certification is more of a State issue
how can the U.S. Chamber of Commerce help with this very difficult issue?

Response: In addition to our substantive efforts to conduct hiring fairs
for veterans and military spouses, the U.S. Chamber can call on its federation of
2,500 State and local chambers and industry associations and more than 3 million
businesses to deal with issues that negatively affect employment of veterans to
include licensing and certification.


Committee on Veterans Affairs

Washington, DC.

June 22, 2011

George Ondick

Executive Director, Department of Ohio

AMVETS

4647 Forbes Boulevard

Lanham, MD  20607

Dear George:

In reference to our Full Committee hearing entitled “Putting America's Veterans
Back to Work,” that took place on June 1, 2011, I would appreciate it if you could
answer the enclosed hearing questions by the close of business on August 5, 2011.

In an effort to reduce printing costs, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, in
cooperation with the Joint Committee on Printing, is implementing some formatting
changes for materials for all full Committee and Subcommittee hearings. Therefore,
it would be appreciated if you could provide your answers consecutively and single-spaced. In addition, please restate the question in its entirety before the answer.

Due to the delay in receiving mail, please provide your response to Debbie Smith
by fax your responses to Debbie at 202-225-2034. If you have any questions, please
call 202-225-9756.

Sincerely,

BOB FILNER

Ranking Democratic Member

JL:ds


AMVETS Department of Ohio

Columbus, OH.

Bob Filner,
Ranking Member

Committee on
Veterans Affairs

U.S. House
of Representatives

Honorable
Bob Filner:

In response
to your letter of June 22, 2011 whereas you asked if:

  1. Do Federal
    employers know and understand hiring authorities?

I am sure some do understand hiring authorities. However, in my opinion
the majority of Federal Employers do not. That is why we the Ohio AMVETS are
attempting to establish a Summit meeting. This day long Summit will address the
problems related to complying with Federal requirement on hiring veterans. We
wish to invite representatives from OFCCP, ESGR, ODJFS, ONG, Federal Contractors,
and any other stakeholders who may wish to participate. At the Summit we will
look at the barriers to compliance, how federal contractors skirt the
requirement, how to be in compliance and most importantly how to find veterans
to fill the positions within the company.

  1. In your opinion,
    do you think the current unemployment rate for younger veterans tends to be
    higher because they are taking time off after deployment(s) before obtaining
    employment or may be attending school?

First of all I believe that veterans who are attending school are not
considered in the ranks of the unemployed therefore those attending school
would not skew the unemployment figures. That being said the members of the
National Guard are also not considered in the ranks of the unemployed because
they are in the Guard. This really skews the unemployment figures giving us a
lower reading on the unemployment numbers for veterans than what is actually
happening in the real world.

Yes some returning veterans may take some well deserved time off, but it
is not going to be an exorbitant amount of time that would impact unemployment
stats. Most of our returning veterans, by necessity are eager to return to the
work force. However barriers to employment keep them in the ranks of the
unemployed. One of the barriers is letting the unemployed veterans know about
veteran friendly employers and visa versa. That is where the Ohio Veterans
Career Assistance Network (Ohio Vets Can) is able to make the employer—employee link up. A product of the Ohio AMVETS Career Center this web site
makes the connection between the veteran and the employer. By making that
connection it also aids in compliance with the federal mandates to hire
veterans and does so at no cost to either the veteran or the employer.

George Ondick

Executive Director


Committee on Veterans Affairs

Washington, DC.

June 22, 2011

Cpt. Marshall Hanson, USNR (Ret.)

Director, Legislative and Military Policy

Reserve Officers Association

One Constitution Ave., NE

Washington, DC  20002

Dear Captain Hanson:

In reference to our Full Committee hearing entitled “Putting America's Veterans
Back to Work,” that took place on June 1, 2011, I would appreciate it if you could
answer the enclosed hearing questions by the close of business on August 5, 2011.

In an effort to reduce printing costs, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, in
cooperation with the Joint Committee on Printing, is implementing some formatting
changes for materials for all full Committee and Subcommittee hearings. Therefore,
it would be appreciated if you could provide your answers consecutively and single-spaced. In addition, please restate the question in its entirety before the answer.

Due to the delay in receiving mail, please provide your response to Debbie Smith
by fax your responses to Debbie at 202-225-2034. If you have any questions, please
call 202-225-9756.

Sincerely,

BOB FILNER

Ranking Democratic Member

JL:ds


Committee on Veterans' Affairs

U.S. House of Representatives

Post-Hearing Questions for Captain Marshall Hanson

From the Honorable Bob Filner

Putting America's Veterans Back to Work

June 1, 2011

Question 1: What more can we do to help Reserve members with their employment
needs?

Response: Veterans are returning from war to an increasingly tough job
market, with National Guard and Reserve members facing additional problems. The
military paid $882 million in unemployment benefits in 2010.

We are now seeing unprecedented levels of returning servicemember unemployment
and under-employment. Eventually, this trend in unemployment could have negative
impacts on force readiness with National Guard and Reserve members leaving the military
to stabilize their civilian employment.

The relationship between civilian employers and their employees or potential
employees that also serve in the Guard and Reserve is extremely important. Many
employers view USERRA as a negative incentive, and ask the Reserve Officers Association
for positive reinforcements.

Improvements can be made to help veteran/Reserve Component hiring:

  • Implement DoD documentation that would inform employers of skills potential
    veteran hirees gained through their military service.
  • Support employer tax incentives specific to the hiring of returning veterans
    and reserve component members
  • Explore grants for related costs related caused by mobilization such as
    the hiring and training of new temporary employees.
  • Simplify cross-licensing/credentialing of military skills easing the burden
    of having to acquire new training and time with equipment to earn private sector
    licenses/credentials.
  • Oversee implementation of OPM and VA veterans' recruitment and employment
    strategic plans.
  • Improve communications to field on improvements in veteran preference hiring
    programs.
  • Support incentives permitting deployed small business owners to keep their
    businesses.
  • Better educate separating servicemembers on their employment and reemployment
    rights (USERRA) including corrective actions that can be taken.

Employer care plans should be developed that will assist with mitigation
strategies for dealing with the civilian workload during the absence of the
servicemember employee and lay out how the employer and employee would remain in contact
throughout the deployment. Employers need increased notification time in order
to better support their personnel.

Question 2: Do you think that some employers are concerned about hiring
a veteran with mental health issues?

Response: Yes. The impact of the publicity campaigns about Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury paint veterans in a negative light; affecting
their ability to be hired.

Published Department of Labor statements aren't helping:

  • Nearly one in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is currently
    suffering from depression or stress disorder. Estimates range up to 300,000
    with PTSD.
  • PTSD among returning servicemembers will cost the Nation as much as
    $6.2 billion
    in the 2 years following deployment—an amount that includes
    both direct medical care and costs for lost productivity.
  • When the Society for Human Resource Management surveyed its members (June
    2010), 46 percent said they believed post-traumatic stress and other mental
    health issues posed a hiring challenge.
  • Although media attention has helped make the diagnosis and treatment of
    PTSD and traumatic brain injury a government priority, veterans say it has also
    contributed to the stigma associated with these wounds.
  • TBI/PTSD-related stigma exists among many employers - employers are unaware
    of the resources that exist to help them provide appropriate workplace accommodations

TBI/PTSD stigma exists in the very Federal agencies that are supposed to be assisting
veterans, by portraying the returning veteran as disabled. The experiences taught
by working with severely physically wounded warriors is that most don't feel themselves
as handicapped, but want to be self-reliant.

Every treatment should be made available and assistance should be provided, but
the veteran shouldn't be labeled. The goal should be to help our veterans return
to a normal life.


Committee on Veterans Affairs

Washington, DC.

June 22, 2011

The Honorable Raymond M. Jefferson

Assistant Secretary, Veterans' Employment and Training Service

U.S. Department of Labor

200 Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, DC  20210

Dear Mr. Secretary:

In reference to our Full Committee hearing entitled “Putting America's Veterans
Back to Work,” that took place on June 1, 2011, I would appreciate it if you could
answer the enclosed hearing questions by the close of business on August 5, 2011.

In an effort to reduce printing costs, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, in
cooperation with the Joint Committee on Printing, is implementing some formatting
changes for materials for all full Committee and Subcommittee hearings. Therefore,
it would be appreciated if you could provide your answers consecutively and single-spaced. In addition, please restate the question in its entirety before the answer.

Due to the delay in receiving mail, please provide your response to Debbie Smith
by fax your responses to Debbie at 202-225-2034. If you have any questions, please
call 202-225-9756.

Sincerely,

BOB FILNER

Ranking Democratic Member

JL:ds


Committee on Veterans' Affairs

U.S. House of Representatives

Post-Hearing Questions from the Honorable Bob Filner

Putting America's Veterans Back to Work

June 1, 2011

  1. Which groups of Veterans are struggling the
    most with employment?

Veterans of all ages and periods of service are struggling at this time and deserve
the attention of the Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS). This fact
is illustrated by the rise in the veteran unemployment rate from 3.2 percent in
September 2007 to 8.1 percent in as of September 2011. Currently, there are nearly
one million unemployed veterans of all ages. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics
(BLS) measures of unemployment rates, younger veterans appear to experience the
highest incidence of unemployment. Because of this, VETS conducts increased outreach
to younger veterans to ensure that they are aware of the employment and training
services that are available to them.

VETS strives, consistent with its mission, to provide services to all veterans,
based on individual need. Therefore, we have included employment data on both veterans
and non-veterans. VETS believes this data should provide the committee with some
insight into the struggles facing the men and women who served this country.

Below please find the September 2011 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic
News Release, table “A-5-Employment status of the civilian population 18 years and
over by veteran status, period of service, and sex, not seasonally adjusted”, which
provides a snapshot of the employment status from the previous month. Updated information
can be found on the VETS website http://www.dol.gov/vets/ under “Veterans Employment—Current
Monthly Data.”

It is clear from table A-5 that veterans have much lower labor force participation
rates than non-veterans, 52.5 percent vs. 67.1 percent in September 2011. Female
veterans have a higher labor force participation rate (61.5 percent) than do male
veterans (51.7 percent), because female veterans as a group are younger on average
than the male veteran group, on average. Similarly, employment-to-population ratios
of male and female veterans were 47.6 and 55.5 compared to 70.2 and 54.4 for male
and female non-veterans in September 2011. 

On the other hand, overall unemployment rates are lower for veterans than non-veterans,
in part due to the fact that veterans are concentrated in the 45-65 year old range,
as pointed out below. However, recent veterans have unemployment in the double digits
compared to non-veterans. The unemployment rates were 11.1 percent and 14.7 percent
for male and female Gulf War-era II Veterans in September 2011 compared to 8.7 percent
for male non-veterans and 8.6 percent for female non-veterans. This may be partly
due to the fact that Gulf War-era II Veterans tend to be younger, and younger individuals,
whether veteran or not, tend to have higher unemployment rates.

HOUSEHOLD DATA

Table A-5. Employment status of the civilian population 18 years and over by veteran
status, period of service, and sex, not seasonally adjusted

[Numbers in thousands]

Employment status,
veteran status, and period of service
Total Men Women
Sept.

2010
Sept.

2011
Sept.

2010
Sept.

2011
Sept.

2010
Sept.

2011

VETERANS, 18 years and over

 

Civilian noninstitutional
population

21,933 21,528 20,142 19,724 1,791 1,804

Civilian labor force

11,683 11,310 10,590 10,200 1,093 1,109

Participation rate

53.3 52.5 52.6 51.7 61.0 61.5

Employed

10,746 10,394 9,743 9,393 1,003 1,002

Employment-population ratio

49.0 48.3 48.4 47.6 56.0 55.5

Unemployed

937 916 847 808 90 108

Unemployment rate

8.0 8.1 8.0 7.9 8.2 9.7

Not in labor force

10,250 10,218 9,552 9,524 698 695
 

Gulf War-era II veterans

 

Civilian noninstitutional
population

2,228 2,451 1,828 2,042 399 409

Civilian labor force

1,857 2,017 1,575 1,712 282 305

Participation rate

83.3 82.3 86.1 83.8 70.6 74.7

Employed

1,666 1,781 1,411 1,521 256 260

Employment-population ratio

74.8 72.7 77.1 74.5 64.1 63.7

Unemployed

190 235 164 191 26 45

Unemployment rate

10.2 11.7 10.4 11.1 9.2 14.7

Not in labor force

371 434 254 330 117 104
 

Gulf War-era I veterans

 

Civilian noninstitutional
population

2,966 2,980 2,525 2,520 441 460

Civilian labor force

2,515 2,474 2,199 2,147 316 327

Participation rate

84.8 83.0 87.1 85.2 71.7 71.1

Employed

2,347 2,295 2,057 1,987 289 308

Employment-population ratio

79.1 77.0 81.5 78.9 65.6 67.0

Unemployed

169 179 142 160 27 19

Unemployment rate

6.7 7.2 6.4 7.4 8.6 5.7

Not in labor force

451 506 326 373 125 133
 

World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam-era veterans

 

Civilian noninstitutional
population

10,911 10,346 10,547 10,016 364 331

Civilian labor force

3,984 3,491 3,870 3,405 115 86

Participation rate

36.5 33.7 36.7 34.0 31.5 26.0

Employed

3,649 3,256 3,545 3,177 104 79

Employment-population ratio

33.4 31.5 33.6 31.7 28.6 23.9

Unemployed

336 235 325 229 10 7

Unemployment rate

8.4 6.7 8.4 6.7 9.1 8.0

Not in labor force

6,927 6,855 6,677 6,610 250 245
 

Veterans of other service periods

 

Civilian noninstitutional
population

5,828 5,751 5,241 5,146 587 605

Civilian labor force

3,326 3,328 2,946 2,936 380 392

Participation rate

57.1 57.9 56.2 57.1 64.8 64.7

Employed

3,084 3,062 2,730 2,707 354 354

Employment-population ratio

52.9 53.2 52.1 52.6 60.4 58.6

Unemployed

242 266 216 229 26 37

Unemployment rate

7.3 8.0 7.3 7.8 6.9 9.5

Not in labor force

2,502 2,423 2,295 2,210 207 213
 

NONVETERANS, 18 years and over

 

Civilian noninstitutional
population

207,224 209,678 90,661 92,251 116,563 117,427

Civilian labor force

140,190 140,784 70,272 70,876 69,918 69,908

Participation rate

67.7 67.1 77.5 76.8 60.0 59.5

Employed

127,552 128,657 63,543 64,737 64,009 63,920

Employment-population ratio

61.6 61.4 70.1 70.2 54.9 54.4

Unemployed

12,638 12,127 6,728 6,139 5,909 5,988

Unemployment rate

9.0 8.6 9.6 8.7 8.5 8.6

Not in labor force

67,034 68,894 20,390 21,375 46,645 47,519

NOTE: Veterans served
on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and were not on active duty at the time
of the survey. Nonveterans never served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Veterans could have served anywhere in the world during these periods of service:
Gulf War era II (September 2001-present), Gulf War era I (August 1990-August 2001),
Vietnam era (August 1964-April 1975), Korean War (July 1950-January 1955), World
War II (December 1941-December 1946), and other service periods (all other time
periods). Veterans who served in more than one wartime period are classified only
in the most recent one. Veterans who served during one of the selected wartime periods
and another period are classified only in the wartime period. Updated population
controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published a more detailed News Release
in March 2011 summarizing the annual unemployment statistics for veterans in the
same four categories of service, along with data from a July 2010 special supplement
to the Current Population Survey on Veterans with service-connected disabilities.
A copy of the News Release is attached and can also be found at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/vet.pdf.

In addition, the three tables below present some aspects of the BLS data on veterans'
and non-veterans' unemployment in 2010. The first table: (a) identifies the proportion
of unemployed veterans in each of eleven specific age groups that BLS applies in
tabulating veteran and non-veteran unemployment; and, (b) aggregates the proportions
within those specific age groups into three more general age groups.

Age Group

Unemployed Veterans by
Specific Age Groups
Unemployed Veterans by
General Age Groups
Number Proportion of Total Number Percentage Rate
18-19 2,000 0.2% 215,000 21.1%
20-24 44,000 4.3%
25-29 92,000 9.0%
30-34 77,000 7.5%
35-39 73,000 7.2% 536,000 52.5%
40-44 86,000 8.4%
45-49 127,000 12.5%
50-54 132,000 12.9%
55-59 118,000 11.6%
60-64 151,000 14.8% 270,000 26.5%
65 +  119,000 11.7%

Total

1,020,000*

 100%*

1,020,000*
100%
  • Group figures do not add to totals due to rounding.
  • Source: Current Population Survey tables, available upon request from BLS.

The second table presents the differences between the veteran and non-veteran
unemployment rates within the eleven specific age groups. Note that when the veterans
and non-veterans in the civilian labor force are standardized according to their
specific age groups, the veteran unemployment rates are higher for nine of the eleven
age groups.

Age Group

Unemployment Rate
Veteran Non-Veteran Difference
18-19 29.4% 24.2%  + 5.2%
20-24 20.6% 15.4% + 5.2%
25-29 14.9% 10.7% + 4.2%
30-34 10.5%  9.1% + 1.4%
35-39 8.0%  8.1% - 0.1%
40-44 6.7% 8.2% - 1.5%
45-49 8.3% 7.8% + 0.5%
50-54 8.4%  7.5% + 0.9%
55-59 8.5% 6.9% + 1.6%
60-64 8.0% 7.1% + 0.9%
65 + 7.2% 6.5% + 0.7%

The third table illustrates why the overall veteran unemployment rate is lower
than the non-veteran rate, despite the higher veteran unemployment rates in nine
of eleven age groups. Specifically, the veterans in the civilian labor force are
concentrated in the 45-65 age range, with an average unemployment rate of 8.1 percent,
while the non-veterans are concentrated in the 18-44 age range with an average unemployment
rate of 10.9 percent. In light of the difference in the age structure of the veterans
and non-veterans in the civilian labor force and the differences in unemployment
rates by age, the overall lower average unemployment rate for veterans reflects
a comparison between two groups that are not truly comparable. Therefore, the overall
averages are somewhat deceptive.

Age Group

Veteran

(Ages 18 and over)

Non-Veteran

(Ages 18 and over)
Percent of Civilian Labor
Force
Unemployment Rate Percent of Civilian Labor
Force
Unemployment Rate
18-44 32% 10.0% 59% 10.9%
45-65  + 68% 8.1% 41% 7.3%
Total 100% 8.7% 100% 9.4%
  1. What are some of the unique employment needs of homeless
    veterans?

Among their other unique needs, many homeless veterans require stable housing
and healthcare before they can be considered job-ready. Similar to veterans in
other DOL grant programs, each homeless veteran needs to be assessed for
transferable skills and skill development prior to seeking employment. These
individual assessments are conducted by Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program
(HVRP) grantees and form the basis of a veteran's Individual Employment Plan
(IEP), which addresses his or her particularized employment needs, including:

  1. job search workshops
  2. job counseling
  3. resume writing techniques
  4. interviewing skills
  5. on the job training 
  6. job development services
  7. competitive job placement
  8. job retention services
  9. soft skills training, such as how to present oneself (i.e., dress, network)

Some homeless veterans may also have suffered an injury or illness while on active
duty, which can result in a serious reduction in their employability. When this
happens, the HVRP grantee must then secure appropriate services in the local community
to help the veteran overcome the barriers incurred as a result of the injury or
illness. For example, a veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
may participate in prescribed therapy to stabilize his or her condition. After the
treating physician determines that the veteran's condition is stable enough for
him or her to seek employment, the service provider then works to place the veteran
with an appropriate employer. As part of these placement efforts, the service provider
typically follows-up with the veteran and the employer frequently in the first weeks
of employment, and gradually reduces assistance until the veteran is fully independent.
Service providers refer to this type of assistance as “supported employment.”

Veterans who have suffered physical disabilities—such as amputations—need
a rehabilitation technology assessment to determine if the physical disability can
be overcome so that they can successfully enter the workforce. In this situation,
service providers refer veterans to the Veteran Affairs (VA) Health Care system
for these assessments, including training on needed technology to help veterans
overcome the challenges presented by their physical difficulties in the workplace.
When the assessment and training are complete, the service provider works to place
the veteran with a suitable employer in a position that does not further aggravate
the disability. Some service providers may also request reasonable accommodations
on the job site. Skilled job placement specialists are able to properly educate
employers on the need for reasonable accommodations while still being sensitive
to imposing undue burdens on the employer.

Another employment-related need common to the homeless veteran population is
reliable transportation. Transportation is especially deficient in rural areas of
the country where many homeless veterans live. Service providers are required to
link with local resources to try and overcome transportation barriers to employment.

Perhaps the most difficult barrier for the provider of employment services to
homeless veterans to overcome is mental illness. In this situation, service providers
refer veterans to the VA Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) program to help overcome
this barrier. CWT is a VA vocational rehabilitation program that endeavors to match
and support work ready veterans in competitive jobs, and to consult with business
and industry regarding their specific employment needs. In addition, some service
providers utilize on-the-job training as a trial work experience to determine whether
the veteran's skills match the employer's needs. Other HVRP grantee service providers
utilize the “job carving” technique, where job developers examine the employer's
needs and carve out specific duties within a veterans' ability despite the presence
of mental illness. The service provider then offers supported employment, as discussed
above, to the employer and veteran as a means of ensuring job retention.

Two other issues impacting a significant number of homeless veterans are substance
abuse disorders and legal problems, such as child support delinquencies and “failure
to appear” warrants for minor citations, which mostly result from their homelessness.
These obstacles are most effectively addressed when the veteran participates in
a transitional program that offers residential stability, employment support and
legal assistance, with the provider serving as the veteran's advocate. Participation
in a structured, supervised program demonstrates the veteran's commitment to correcting
past indiscretions and opens up opportunities that might otherwise be denied.

Homeless female veterans and homeless veterans with families also face unique
challenges such as the need for reliable child care. Moreover, many of these veterans
may not come forward and seek the help available to them for fear that their children
may be placed into foster care if they disclose their status as a homeless individual
to a service provider or other government entity. Unfortunately, this fear of coming
forward only exacerbates an already precarious situation.

  1. There is a need to ensure that veterans are getting trained and afforded
    ample opportunities to success. What kind of training should combat arms veterans
    receive versus a non-combat arms veteran to succeed in the job market?

The reality is that when it comes to employment training, all veterans
need a solid set of skills to be competitive. A veteran's military experience makes
him or her competitive in the job market; each possesses critical “soft skills”
such as leadership, strategic planning, risk assessment, and management. However,
some employers may view PTSD or TBI as barriers for many young veterans being competitive.
Additionally, VETS believes that younger veterans experience some difficulty translating
their knowledge, skills, and abilities into compelling language that employers understand.
For these reasons, it is important that every veteran be able to fully articulate
his or her personal story, experiences, skills, and value that he or she can provide
to a perspective employer. Thus, while the opportunity for Federally supported training,
available resources, and course content should be uniform for both combat and non-combat
veterans, their individual stories, experiences, and employment needs will necessarily
differ.