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Opening Statement of Hon. Bob Filner, Ranking Democratic Member, Full 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 service members 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 service members who have been away for months to compete with their civilian counterparts. 

I remain concerned for our returning service members 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 service members 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.