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.
Committee Reviews Plan to Ensure VOW to Hire Heroes Act Will Get Veterans Back to Work
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity began oversight to ensure that the new VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 is being implemented with the intent of the law intact and that the Departments of Labor (DoL) and Veterans Affairs (VA) are collaborating to execute the law.
“I can’t stress enough that the proper implementation of this law is extremely critical, and as such I want to put both agencies on notice that this will be this Subcommittee’s top priority in the next session of Congress,” stated Rep. Marlin Stutzman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. “We need to identify any obstacles now so that our veterans can take full advantage of this jobs law.”
The major provision of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act is the temporary extension of Montgomery GI Bill benefits to eligible veterans to receive up to one year of training at a community college or technical school for in-demand occupations. Eligible veterans would have to be between the age of 35 and 60, be unemployed, and not have eligibility for other VA education programs.
During the hearing, VA officials cited challenges, including the aggressive timeline, set by Congress due to the high unemployment rates experienced by veterans, to implement the programs in the law. Members of the Subcommittee were also concerned about how DoL and VA will reach out to ensure unemployed veterans are aware of the new programs, and how veterans can receive updates from VA on the law’s implementation process.
“We need to make sure that our veterans are not cheated out of this wonderful benefit because of bureaucratic delays or hurdles,” Stutzman said. “We need to get this right. We will work with the Departments to make sure they have the tools they need to make this law a reality, but we will not tolerate excuses or delays. Our returning veterans deserve better.”
“Earlier this year, I set a goal to cut veterans unemployment rates in half,” stated Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and co-author of the law. “If this law is implemented properly, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act will help us attain that goal.”
Today’s hearing is the first in a series of oversight hearings the Subcommittee will hold on the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.