News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray sent a letter to Secretary Hilda Solis at the Department of Labor urging the Department to reach out to employers who want to hire separating servicemembers. The letter asks the Department to outline the ways it partners with prospective employers committed to hiring veterans and shares such information with veterans. Senator Murray is the sponsor of the comprehensive veterans’ employment legislation, the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, which would require that separating service members attend the Transition Assistance Program. The bill would also create new direct federal hiring authority so that more service members have jobs waiting for them the day they leave the military.

“Every step that can be taken should be taken to fully capitalize on employers’ interest in, and commitment to, hiring America’s veterans,” said Senator Murray in the letter.   “This is especially true given President Obama’s recent challenge to the private sector to hire 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013.   To this end, it is critical that such employers are connected to the right resources, and that veterans have the information they need to be competitive for these employment opportunities.”

The full text of Chairman Murray’s letter is below:

September 22, 2011

The Honorable Hilda L. Solis
Secretary of Labor
Frances Perkins Building
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Secretary Solis:

With the unemployment rate for young veterans reaching unprecedented levels in recent months, ensuring that America’s veterans can access living-wage jobs is of paramount concern.  I know that the Administration shares my concern – as evidenced by the unveiling of the American Jobs Act.

One area where we have an opportunity to make a real and meaningful difference in addressing the high veteran unemployment rate is outreach to – and partnership with – employers who want to hire veterans.

Recently, my office was contacted by an employer regarding a hiring initiative for veterans within his industry.  According to the employer, despite the initiative’s potential to create thousands of job opportunities for veterans, the employer found it difficult to connect with the right people at the Department regarding his efforts to hire veterans. And every day my staff or I talk with companies that are desperate to find employees to fill good jobs.

Every step that can be taken should be taken to fully capitalize on employers’ interest in, and commitment to, hiring America’s veterans.  This is especially true given President Obama’s recent challenge to the private sector to hire 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013.   To this end, it is critical that such employers are connected to the right resources, and that veterans have the information they need to be competitive for these employment opportunities.

Therefore, please detail for me the current process by which the Department partners with prospective employers committed to hiring veterans and shares such information with veterans: 

  • How does the Department cultivate and foster partnerships with prospective employers? 
  • Does the Department coordinate such efforts with the VETS web portal, and if so, how? If not, what portal (if any) does the Department use to engage with prospective employers?
  • Has the Department developed a best practice as to the manner by which it connects separating servicemembers and recently separated veterans with employers who are hiring?  If so, please share a description of that practice with my office.
  • Does the Department attempt to match veterans and employers by targeting veterans whose military occupational specialties are aligned with the unique needs of the employer? 
  • How does the Department disseminate information to veterans about employers who are currently hiring?  Is such information included in the Transition Assistance Program?  If not, why?
  • How does the Department communicate information about employers who are currently hiring to the Department’s One-Stop Career Centers and coordinate with Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program specialists and relevant Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives?
  • How does the Department coordinate efforts to engage employers with the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense?  What other departments and agencies are also involved with your efforts?
  • Finally, does the Department possess all the necessary legal authority to partner with prospective employers and connect separating servicemembers and veterans with such employers?  If not, what specific authority is lacking. 

Secretary Solis, thank you for your leadership and work on behalf of America’s veterans, and for your response to these questions.  I am confident that the Department, in partnership with private industry, can continue to make real progress against the high rate of veteran unemployment that has persisted for far too long.

I look forward to working with you in the weeks and months ahead to help get our veterans back to work.

Sincerely,

Patty Murray