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Opening Statement of Hon. Marlin A. Stutzman, Chairman, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity

Good morning.  I am delighted to be here in Waterloo with your Congressman, Bruce Braley and I thank him for bringing us to his district.  My name is Marlin Stutzman.  I am the Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, and represent Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District in northeast Indiana.  I have Iowa ties- my great-grandparents lived in Washington, Iowa, and are buried there.  My aunt was born on Independence Day in Independence Iowa, where she lived alongside my grandparents.  My district is very similar to Iowa’s first Congressional District.  We are very proud of our Midwestern values and proud of America.  In northeast Indiana, we are especially proud of our 48,000 veterans who have served our nation.  I am honored to serve as their voice in Congress and serve alongside Ranking Member Bruce Braley, who is a great member, veterans advocate, and a friend.

We are here today to here from Iowans about the employment difficulties facing far too many members of the Iowa National Guard, the Reserves, and those returning from active duty.  While the unemployment rate for all Iowa veterans in September was 5.8 percent, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 35.6 percent of America’s Gulf Era II veterans ages 20 to 24 were unemployed, while 8.8 percent of Gulf Era II veterans ages 25-54 were unemployed.

More shocking is anecdotal information that as much as 30 percent of returning members of the Guard and Reserves do not come home to a job.  Clearly, we need to find ways to reduce all of those numbers.  The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has taken a first step toward that end last week by passing H.R. 2433, a bill that would provide up to a year of GI Bill benefits to unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60.  The bill now goes to the Senate and we hope to get the bill to the President by Veterans Day along with several other improvements to veterans benefits.

Again, I am delighted to be with you today and I will now yield to the gentleman whose office is next to mine, the distinguished Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, my good friend, the Honorable Bruce Braley.