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Opening Statement of Hon. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Chairwoman, and a Representative in Congress from the State of South Dakota

Like many of my colleagues in the Subcommittee, the state of South Dakota has had service members that have been activated in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Some of these brave men and women have returned injured and are currently in need of healthcare and employment services.  They, like all disabled veterans from around the country, deserve our best efforts to provide a seamless and effective transition from military service to civilian life and the workforce.

Earlier this year, this Subcommittee held its first hearing that included the Department of Labor’s Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialist (DVOPS) and Local Veterans Employment Representative (LVER) programs, which are primarily administered through state employment agencies. 

As our distinguished panelists know, the primary role of DVOP and LVER is to assist veterans obtain employment and conduct employer outreach.  Specifically, the implementation of DVOP was designed to meet the employment needs of disabled veterans.  I applaud the sincere dedication of these professionals, but also believe further opportunities to enhance these programs still exist.

As I have traveled around my state meeting constituents, I have had the privilege to meet with service members and veterans to discuss issues important to them and their loved ones.  While healthcare, compensation and education benefits rank high among the issues raised, the need for employment opportunities has resonated clearly among the veteran community.  Their ability to acquire proficient skill sets, obtain the needed assistance to successfully connect to an employer and apply those skills to the workforce are fundamental to their ability to succeed in today’s workforce environment.  This is especially true at a time when we can expect an increased level of retirements within the next few years.  I truly believe that the Department of Labor’s DVOP/LVER programs have a crucial role in assisting our veterans meet this need.

Today’s hearing will follow-up on at least three Subcommittee hearings held in the 109th Congress and our first Subcommittee hearing held on March 7th of this year.  In those hearings we had the opportunity to hear from veteran service organization’s concerns on funding levels, DVOP/LVER training, accountability and priority of service for our veterans. 

Ranking Member Boozman, I look forward to working with you, all the Members on this Subcommittee, veteran service organizations and administrations officials to address these concerns and ensure our nation’s veterans are provided the best services to succeed in life after their service to our country.