A bill that promises to better channel veterans into jobs in law enforcement, fire fighting and conservation service is stalling in the Senate over moves that some Senate Democrats are calling “a partisan fight.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said it seemed like Republicans were “searching for a reason to say no” to the Veterans Job Corps Act, sponsored by Sen. Bill* Nelson (D-FL), which has had many bipartisan amendments added to the bill. Nelson said the bill has support from veterans groups and others, including the American Legion, the Military Officers Association of America, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the National Association of Police Organizations.
The bill is estimated to cost $1 billion over the next five years, causing some Senate Republicans to object to the price tag.
“They are saying we should not make any more investments in our veterans,” Murray said on a conference call on Thursday with reporters. “Veterans are watching and they are waiting.”
Indeed, the most recent jobs numbers released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate about 227,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are facing unemployment.
Tom Tarantino of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), related his own experience with unemployment when he got out of the military in 2007. “I got out of the military thinking a lot of the things that we think when getting out of the military, that it’s going to be easy to find a job,” he said.
Unfortunately, Tarantino faced a 10-month slog before he met success and “the only employer that understood my resume was IAVA.”
“Veterans — especially unemployed veterans — don’t care about campaign politics. Unemployed veterans don’t care about inside Washington procedural tricks. What they care about is knowing the government has their back,” he said.
In a speech before the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama used similar words to the military mom, Elaine Brye, who introduced her, “Thank you so much, Elaine … we are so grateful for your family’s service and sacrifice … and we will always have your back.”
*Correction: This story originally referred to Sen. Ben Nelson.