Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Opening Statement of Hon. Bill Johnson, a Representative in Congress from the State of Ohio
Thank you Mr. Chairman,
I am pleased for this opportunity to discuss legislation intended to advance education and employment opportunities for our nation’s veterans. I would also like to thank members of the veterans’ service organizations and the VA for being here today and sharing your views and recommendations on H.R. 1383, H.R. 802, H.R. 1657, and also Ranking Member Braley’s legislation regarding specially adaptive housing assistance.
As I’ve stated before, I strongly believe that veterans are the segment of society that most deserves our sincere gratitude and assistance. It is our responsibility to ensure that veterans returning home are made aware of the benefits they are entitled to, and that they receive the necessary assistance to ease their transition back to civilian life and the workforce.
It is my hope that veterans take advantage of the educational programs and opportunities offered by the VA. The Post 9/11 GI Bill is intended to aide veterans in achieving their educational goals by assisting with tuition and fees, housing, and books and supplies.
However, it is also important that changes made to the benefits offered to our veterans are not done so in a harmful manner. H.R. 1383, introduced by Chairman Miller, would temporarily preserve higher rates for tuition and fees for non-public education programs so that students, who had previously been guaranteed higher tuition payment rates than those currently specified in the Post 9/11 Educational Assistance Program, will not face a reduction in tuition and fees paid by the VA on their behalf. It is necessary that these students finish their degree with the benefits they were entitled to when they began their education program.
Today, we will also discuss H.R. 802, legislation that would establish the VetStar Award Program to recognize businesses for their contributions to veterans’ employment. While this legislation will not solve the issue of high rates of veteran unemployment, it is my hope that H.R. 802 will encourage more businesses to hire veterans.
Additionally, H.R. 1657 will ensure that government contracts intended for veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses will be awarded correctly. Veterans possess a unique perspective that only those who have served our country can offer. It is unconscionable for small businesses to falsely claim to be veteran-owned and take away contracts intended for those who have served and sacrificed for our country.
I welcome this opportunity to further discuss each of these bills with my colleagues in addition to the veterans’ service organizations and VA members who are present.