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Murray, Klobuchar, Johanns Introduce Bill to Help Returning Soldiers Get Jobs

Nov 12 2009

Senators say returning soldiers' unemployment rate too high and say benefits should include apprenticeship and job training, not just college

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, along with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Johanns (R-NE), today introduced the Post-9/11 Veterans’ Job Training Act to include job training and apprenticeship opportunities for veterans who have served our country since the attacks of September 11, 2001. 

The current regulations for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill state that veterans cannot use their new educational benefits to pay for an apprenticeship or on-the-job training program, and the benefits can only be applied for “programs of education” with a curriculum or combination of courses at an approved institution of higher learning.

The proposed legislation would add job training and apprenticeship programs to the list of available programs under the new G.I. Bill and allow veterans to use their educational benefits to obtain workforce training and experience. 

“Too many of our veterans have served our country only to come home to unemployment and financial struggles.  The G.I. Bill the President signed this year opened the doors to higher education for veterans but in these tough economic times we need to expand that opportunity to include jobs skills and workforce training,” Senator Murray said.  “Yesterday our nation recognized the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families, the bill we are introducing today honors them with the skills and resources to help them succeed long term.”

Currently eighteen percent of veterans who have left service in the past one to three years are unemployed, almost double the national unemployment rate.   Statistics from the Department of Labor, show the unemployment rate among 20-24 year olds is consistently higher than the rate among non-veterans of the same age. 

Senator Murray has worked to address this issue in her Employment and Workplace Safety Committee and through veteran employment events she has hosted in Washington state.  

“When our soldiers sign up for service, there isn’t a waiting line and there shouldn’t be a waiting line when they come home and need a job,” said Senator Klobuchar.  “Not every returning soldier chooses to go to college but they still want a job.  Job training, from pipe-fitting to law enforcement, should be covered by the G.I. Bill.” 

"The unemployment rate of our returning service members is a concerning sign that we are not doing enough to help them assimilate into their communities once they have completed their tours of duty," Senator Johanns said. "They are more than deserving of our greater efforts to get them back on an even playing field in the job market. This legislation expands upon and improves the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, and will lead to more veterans getting jobs more quickly when they come home."

Under the proposed legislation, the VA would be responsible for establishing a process for administering these new job training and apprenticeship benefits under the overall Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.  Once a veteran has applied for his or her G.I. Bill benefits from the VA, they would be able to enroll in on-the-job-training and apprenticeship programs and use their benefits to pay for:

  • Monthly housing costs (based on a percentage of the full-time GI Bill rate: 75% for the first six months, 55% for the second six months, and 35% for the remainder of the training program)
  • Certification and testing fees
  • Relocation and travel expenses, and
  • Tutoring costs.