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Witness Testimony of Hon. Cliff Stearns, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

Executive Summary

For many service members, the transition from active duty to veteran status, and returning to a full meaningful civilian life is daunting, fraught with many challenging obstacles and bureaucratic barriers.  Many times, these brave service men and women require job training for entirely new careers. 

My legislation, H.R. 3646, the Veterans’ Effective Training Job Opportunities and Benefits Act of 2007, or the VET JOBS Act would provide better information to veterans on their local job market needs.  The VET JOBS Act directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Labor to conduct a joint study on the greatest employment needs in various job markets around the country and post the results on the VA website. These results would then be updated annually to reflect the current and possibly changing needs in the local job market.

The VET JOBS Act has broad bipartisan support and has been endorsed by many veterans’ organizations, such as the American Legion, AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Blinded Veterans of America and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.  In addition, my bill has 44 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.


Thank you Madam Chair for allowing me the opportunity to testify on behalf of my bill, H.R. 3646, the Veterans’ Effective Training Job Opportunities and Benefits Act of 2007, or the VET JOBS Act.  This bill is an important step in helping our veterans find gainful employment when retiring from service.

When warriors return home from combat, they often face another uphill battle.  For many service members, the transition from active duty to veteran status, and returning to a full meaningful civilian life is daunting, fraught with many challenging obstacles and bureaucratic barriers.  Many times, these brave service men and women require job training for entirely new careers. 

Although statistics show that eventually veterans in general enjoy a favorable employment rate in the nation’s job market, many veterans initially find it difficult to compete successfully in the labor market.  That’s why for over a decade, the federal government has provided job-training benefits to veterans through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Labor. The mission statement for the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) program is to “provide veterans and transitioning service members with the resources and services to succeed in the 21st century workforce by maximizing their employment opportunities, protecting their employment rights and meeting labor-market demands with qualified veterans today.”

Additionally, the Department of Labor offers service members leaving the military with a service-connected disability, the Disabled Transition Assistance Program (DTAP).  DTAP includes a three-day workshop plus additional hours of individual instruction to help determine job readiness and address the special needs of disabled veterans.  However, this is the identical DTAP program offered to all transitioning disabled veterans across the nation.

This three-day program is valuable support, but it only provides general employment information and at no time addresses the specific needs of the community in which the veteran lives. Unfortunately, this means that frequently there is a void of information on local labor market conditions that results in veterans using their benefit to train for jobs that don’t exist in their communities.

Mr. Jeffrey Askew is Director of the Marion County Veterans’ Service Center in my hometown of Ocala, Florida.  He said many veterans have used their federal job training benefits for Information Technology (IT) career training.  However, Ocala has little demand for IT professionals, and veterans often are advised to move to Orlando where there are more opportunities.  Upon finally getting settled back into civilian life, it is frustrating and unfortunate--to say the least-- to be forced to uproot one more time and move your family to an unknown city.  I am concerned about this problem, but I believe there is an easy solution. 

Currently, there is a maze of websites with confusing and sometimes out of date information on employment conditions.  My legislation would provide better information to veterans on their local job market needs.  The VET JOBS Act directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Labor to conduct a joint study on the greatest employment needs in various job markets around the country and post the results on the VA website. These results would then be updated annually to reflect the current and possibly changing needs in the local job market.  With this tool, veterans could plug in their zip code and see a list of the occupations that are most in demand within their commuting area, and subsequently use their federal job training most effectively.  The Department of Labor already has the infrastructure in place for this kind of research, so this is a practical, low cost solution.  In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has unofficially scored this proposal as having “insignificant” costs. Insignificant costs for immeasurable benefit to our veterans.

Furthermore, the VET JOBS Act has broad bipartisan support and has been endorsed by many veterans’ organizations, such as the American Legion, AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Blinded Veterans of America and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.  In addition, my bill has 44 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.

Thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to testify on the VET JOBS Act.  I look forward to working with my colleagues to help our veterans obtain quality employment.