Snap Fact #275
President Obama Has Unbelievably Been Stonewalled By Congress on Veterans Benefits!
On February 3, 2012, in his State of the Union Address, President Obama unveiled a new $5 Billion jobs programs to put the Nation’s Veterans, back to work. Thousands of American Servicemen are returning from Iraq and from Afghanistan, and President Obama realizes that they both need the tools to reintegrate into Civilian Life as well as to find good paying jobs. The President's new Veterans Jobs Corps initiative, part of his "We Can't Wait" campaign, is intended to push Congress to act on items that can help spur economic growth now, If enacted, President Obama’s Veterans Jobs Corps "will help thousands of service members with manufacturing and other high-demand skills receive civilian credentials and licenses.

The new Veterans Jobs Corps initiative, involves partnerships with the Veterans Administration and the Interior Department, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies. Under the blueprint, the administration will award $166 million in grant money to communities that show a preference for hiring post-9/11 Veterans for new law enforcement positions. In addition, $320 million in grant money will be awarded to various fire departments who pledge to hire and train new Veterans. Money for those grants has already been appropriated by Congress. The President, however, will now seek an additional $4 billion in his upcoming budget to expand both programs. Congress last fall rejected a similar proposal that was part of the President's broader jobs initiative.

The President's upcoming budget also included a $1 billion proposal to create as many as 20,000 new jobs for Veterans relating to conservation efforts on America's federal and state public lands. That proposal overseen by the Department of the would Interior, would put Veterans to work in visitor and tourism-related jobs as well as positions that will assist in general upkeep and maintenance roles throughout the country's public parks and nature preserves. It would help rebuild roads, levees and trails on public lands.- a jobs program strikingly similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. 

With the exception of a few of the President's jobs proposals to clear Congress in 2011 were new tax credits for businesses that hire recent Veterans. But for all intents and purposes the GOP has blocked Veteran friendly programs. They have either filibustered Veterans job legislation in the Democratic controlled Senate, or the GOP controlled House has refused to bring Veterans jobs legislation up for a vote.

Other steps taken so far by President Obama to support Veterans in developing skills and finding work, include challenging the private sector to hire or train 100,000 Veterans and their spouses by 2013; awarding $3 Billion in 12,000 SBA loans to Veterans and Disabled Veterans to start businesses of their own; helping Veterans obtain industry-recognized credentials and licenses; increasing access to intensive reemployment services; developing online tools to boost veteran employment, e.g., Fedshirevets (http://www.fedshirevets.gov/), a clearinghouse for Federal Veteran Employment Information; and increasing hiring of Veterans in healthcare-related fields.

Three months after President Obama unveiled his Veterans Jobs Corps Proposal, on May 31, 2012, the President journeyed to Honeywell International Inc.'s facility in Golden Valley, Minn. There, in a speech, he continued his call to Congress to take action on his Jobs promotion "To Do List." The list has five components: reward American jobs instead of outsourcing, simplify refinancing for homeowners, invest in small businesses and hiring, invest in clean energy and put veterans to work. Why did President Obama go to Honeywell International Inc.? Honeywell is a participant in Obama's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, in which industry, universities, the federal government and others try to identify manufacturing opportunities in emerging technologies in hopes of promoting domestic manufacturing jobs.
In the months that have followed, Congress has still not acted on President Obama's call. However, thanks to an Obama Executive Order, On June 25, 2012, The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) announced funding awards to over 220 cities and counties, aimed at creating or saving approximately 800 law enforcement positions. All new law enforcement positions funded in the COPS 2012 Hiring Program must be filled by recent military Veterans who have served at least 180 days since September 11, 2001. The grants will fund over 600 new law enforcement positions and save an additional 200 positions recently lost or in jeopardy of being cut due to local budget cuts. 

Addressing the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) on July 23, 2012, President Obama again spoke of stressed his continued commitment putting Veterans back to work rebuilding and protecting America, and his continued commitment to the new generation of Veterans coming home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as issues close to Vietnam-era and earlier Veterans. The VFW web site has posted a Fact Sheet detailing President Obama's efforts to help Veterans transition back to civilian life and well as his efforts to promote hiring of Veterans in the Federal, State and Local Sectors and the Private Sector. 


In absence of Congressional action on Veterans jobs, two Democratic Senators have taken up President Obama's fight. On July 26, 2012, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL ) and co-sponsor Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have partnered to propose a Veterans Jobs Corps of their own. Under their proposal, The corps would provide training to Veterans to adapt the skills they develop in the military to the civilian job market — in fields such as health care, firefighting, emergency medical technicians and mechanics. It would establish a Conservation Corps to carry out public works projects itself as well as award grants or contracts to states, local governments and non-governmental entities that employ Veterans. Schumer said the job corps would offer Veterans a "one-stop" information center on what's available for them.

Schumer cited the need for a Veterans Job Corps; the latest annual Veterans Unemployment figure — 12.1 percent, the average for 2011 for all Veterans who'd served since September 2001. Male Veterans ages 18 to 24 who served during that time had a rate as high as 21.9 percent in 2011. The overall unemployment rate for post-9/11 Veterans is 11.1%, nearly 3 percentage points higher than the country's overall unemployment rate. .The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics just issued figures showing the June unemployment number for Veterans: 9.5 percent, down from 13.3 percent in June 2011. The rate is slightly higher for women: 10.1 percent, compared with 9.4 percent for men.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that will establish an "employment portal" on the state Division of Veterans Affairs Web site giving links to all federal and state programs that will help them find work — including the job corps if it becomes law.

We can see how the GOP inspired "Trickle Down Theory" and Congressional inaction has really failed to provide the men and women who bravely served our country with jobs. Why hasn't Congress not acted to foster Veterans job growth? Because any action would be seen as an Obama achievement, and undermine the GOP goal to keep Obama a one-term President. So thanks to Congress, our men and women in uniform have become the sacrificial lambs of the GOP.