Tuesday, May 21, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL 8) hosted a discussion with nearly 80 veterans, business leaders and support organizations today at American Legion Post 24 in Alexandria on Kaine’s first bill, the Troop Talent Act, and next steps for the bipartisan legislation.
“None of us can feel good if we hear the unemployment stats that our veterans are facing in a tough economy. As we draw down out of Afghanistan and as more transition from active to veteran life this challenge could compound if we don’t tackle it. It’s something that we owe to those who serve,” said Kaine. “It’s also good for our country and economy. Military training is an enormous public investment in skills. We should take advantage of those skills and talent that is there among our folks who are transitioning out of active duty for the benefit of our entire society.”
Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, first introduced the bipartisan bill with Sens. Chambliss (R-GA) and Baucus (D-MT) in early April to address the challenges servicemembers face during their transition into civilian life and employment. With the veteran unemployment rate among returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans higher than the national average, the Troop Talent Act will increase access for servicemembers to traditional and high-demand career fields such as information technology by streamlining the alignment of military skills acquired in active duty with civilian credentials.
Duckworth, a veteran of the war in Iraq and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced a companion bill in the House in late April.
“The unemployment rate for Veterans who have served in the military since 2001 is nearly 10%,” said Duckworth. “That number is simply unacceptable. Our Veterans guarantee the quality of their work with their life and civilian employers are in need of that level of dedication and expertise. The Troop Talent Act will enable Veterans to make the transition to the private sector more easily and help our businesses thrive at the same time. Senator Kaine and I look forward to moving this bipartisan legislation forward.”
Bill Aramony, the Commander of Post 24, reminded attendees that during a roundtable at Post 24 with young veterans in 2012, Kaine promised to address the credentialing issue and return to meet with them if elected to the Senate. Aramony praised the bill and efforts by Kaine and Duckworth to create new opportunities for veterans returning to civilian occupations.
As the House of Representatives and Senate embark on consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act, both Kaine and Duckworth are actively pursuing avenues for passage. The Troop Talent Act has 10 co-sponsors in the Senate, including 5 Republicans, and 66 co-sponsors in the House, including 24 House Armed Services Committee members.