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The Veterans Opportunity To Work Act (The VOW Act)

I am committed to reducing the veterans’ unemployment rate to below 5 percent over the next two years. They kept their vow to us, now it’s our turn to vow to help them.”
Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

The Veteran Opportunity to Work Act of 2011

VOW to Act

THERE ARE AN ALARMING number of unemployed veterans in the United States – nearly 1 million today. As Iraq and Afghanistan veterans come home, and as Vietnam, Cold War, and Persian Gulf War veterans can’t find or lose their jobs, the economy is losing some of its best and brightest leaders and workers.

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is committed to helping the men and women who have served our nation and protected our Liberty compete in today’s austere economic climate through comprehensive legislation that provides a 360 solution to veteran unemployment.

Introducing the Veteran Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 (H.R. 2433). VOW to act today!

Veterans Out of Work*

  • Vietnam Era Veterans: 165,000
  • Cold War Era Veterans: 199,000
  • Persian Gulf War Era Veterans: 135,000
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Era Veterans: 211,000

*Updated November 2012

A Preview of the VOW Act

Link to video for The Veteran Opportunity Work Act

What is the VOW Act?

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP)

TAP provides servicemembers who are about to be discharged with job seeking skills such as resume writing to help their transition to the civilian world. But are these programs working? The VOW Act enhances TAP to ensure it is effective, measures success, and requires an ongoing review of the program to strengthen it for the 21st century. In addition, the VOW Act will make attendance at TAP classes mandatory for all servicemembers.

Education & Training

Through the Post-9/11 GI Bill more veterans are getting a secondary education than ever before. Forty-eight percent of veterans using education benefits are enrolled in 4-year colleges and universities, 33 percent are enrolled in two-year colleges, 8 percent are enrolled in graduate school, and 11 percent are enrolled in an on-the-job training program or apprenticeship. We have laid the foundation to have the most robust, qualified veteran workforce since World War II.

The VOW Act will also enable 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras to receive up to 1-year of Montgomery GI Bill benefits. This opportunity will allow veterans to acquire the skills to find employment in today’s jobmarket.

In addition, to give state governors maximum flexibility in the funds they receive to help veterans find jobs, the VOW Act will give governors the option of using up to 25% of the funding for direct training services for veterans.

National Guard & Reserve

The VOW Act honors the service of our National Guard and Reserve – 14% of whom are currently unemployed. When they left their job to serve their nation, their employer, by law, must reemploy them upon return. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The VOW Act strengthens the protections provided by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

Licensing & Certification

Despite America’s military having some of the best-trained professionals, the inability to be credentialed or licensed in their field prevents these men and women from obtaining meaningful and gainful employment that makes use of their military training. These professions include, but are not limited to, combat medics, truck drivers, and aircraft technicians.

The VOW Act will work with the Department of Labor and the states to identify roadblocks to obtaining employment.

What Others are Saying About the Vow Act:

American Legion (letter dated August 3, 2011)

Disabled American Veterans (letter dated July 15, 2011)

Fleet Reserve Association (letter dated September 7, 2011)

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (letter dated July 18, 2011)

Military Officers Association of America (letter dated July 14, 2011)

Military Order of the Purple Heart (letter dated July 11, 2011)

National Association for Uniformed Services (letter dated August 15, 2011)

National Association of Realtors (letter dated July 21, 2011)

Paralyzed Veterans of America (letter dated July 19, 2011 ), plus Paralyzed Veterans on Capitol Hill

The Military Coalition (letter dated August 3, 2011)

Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, (letter dated August 1, 2011

Vets1First (letter dated July 13, 2011)


The Veterans Employment Summit

Full Committee Veterans Employment Summit, held on September 13, 2011.

VOW Act Media

Committee Hosts Summit to Discuss Veteran Employment (September 13, 2011) – WASHINGTON, D.C.–Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hosted a Veterans Employment Summit to discuss the best practices of the private sector for hiring veterans.

Chairman Miller on Lou Dobbs Radio (September 13, 2011)

House committee passes jobs bill for veterans (Air Force Times, September 8, 2011) – A key House committee approved a $1.5 billion veterans’ employment bill Thursday that promises a new job retraining program for veterans aged 35 and older who have been out of work for at least 26 weeks as well as improvements in transition assistance, job placement and professional licensing initiatives for all veterans.

Committee Advances Veterans’ Jobs Legislation with Bipartisan Support—VOW Act Heads to House Floor (September 8, 2011) – WASHINGTON, D.C.–Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs favorably reported seven pieces of legislation (H.R. 2433, as amended; H.R. 2646 as amended; H.R. 2302, as amended; H.R. 2349, as amended; H.R. 2074, as amended; H.R. 1025; and H.R. 1263, as amended) for full House consideration.

Miller stands with unemployed vets (Pensacola News Journal, September 1, 2011) – WASHINGTON—Veterans deserve better than to return from service only to stand in an unemployment line, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller told American Legion members on Wednesday.

VOW to Hire Our Heroes (Huffington Post, July 18, 2011) – Lost in the headlines about the mind-numbing debt ceiling debate and Japan’s  Women’s World Cup victory, the unemployment rate for new veterans jumped to 13.3 percent in June, 4 percentage points higher than the national average. Last time we polled IAVA’s membership, they reported close to 20 percent unemployment.

Groups praise Miller's jobs bill for veterans (Marine Corps Times, July 15, 2011) – A comprehensive veterans’ employment bill sponsored by the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee won some key endorsements Friday–but a vocal opponent also surfaced.

In Case You Missed It: Vowing To Act For Veterans (July 15, 2011) – WASHINGTON, D.C.–Today, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rep. Jeff Miller discussed the importance of the urgent need to pass legislation to curb the rising rates of unemployment among America’s veteran population in the Hill.

Miller Introduces Milestone Veteran Employment Legislation (July 7, 2011) – WASHINGTON, D.C.–Today, Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced comprehensive legislation to help stem the rising unemployment rate among America’s veteran population, which stands at nearly 1 million.

Miller Introduces Tax Credit to Hire Veterans Legislation (July 7, 2011) – WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced complementary legislation to the Veteran Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act of 2011 (H.R. 2433) to help curb rising veteran unemployment.

Getting Veterans Back to Work (National Review Online, July 7, 2011) – Rep. Jeff Miller writes on NRO: America’s veterans must have the education and skills to find employment as they return home.  In the film Larry Crowne, a 50-something Navy veteran is laid off from his job at a megastore because he can’t compete against college-educated workers.

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