Patty in the News

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Patty Murray on Tuesday introduced what she said was the nation's first comprehensive legislation to address disproportionately high joblessness among veterans, whose military credentials they say can be an impediment to employment.

Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans Affiars Committee whose father was a disabled World War II veteran, said the bill aims to lower unemployment rates by helping vets both get trained for new jobs as well as start their own businesses.

Specifically, the Veterans Employment Act of 2010 would create a program within the Small Business Administration to provide start-up money and training for would-be entrepreneurs. It also would expand the post 9/11 GI Bill to allow veterans to receive tuition help not only for colleages but for worker training or apprenticeship programs.

Murray said people who leave military service face many obstacles to finding work in civilian life. They include stigma against those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and the difficulty of convincing prospective employers that military experience is relevant and useful.

"One in five of our dedicated veterans...come home and can't find a job," Murray said. "These veterans have been made to stand in the back of the (employment) line.

Murray said she did not have price tag for the bill, which is awaiting a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, both Democrats, as well as Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Jason Hansman of Seattle, an Iraq veteran, said he was out of work for five months after returning from deployment training. Hansman said he could not get a job even as a cashier at Trader Joe's despite holding a degree in political science from University of Washington. Hansman blamed that in part on employers who did not put any value in his eight-year service in the Army Reserves.

- Seattle Times