Campaign Promises

Cabinet/Departments -> Veterans Affairs -> Jobs


ItemVeterans Affairs
JobsGrade
VA-11
The Promise: "Will put additional resources into enforcement and investigation in order to crack down on employers who are not following the letter and spirit of the law in regards to military reservists."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Fulfilling a Sacred Trust With Our Veterans" dated 09/09/08.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/cc58c930c81a543386_a0m6b5dgf.pdf
Status:The "Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act" (USERRA) has existed since CY1994. This law has re-hiring enforcement mechanisms in place to protect honorably discharged reservists returning from active duty. This law requires an amendment to ensure that returning reservists are not subjected to discrimination by former employers.

In an effort to mitigate this situation, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced the "Help Veterans Return to Work Act" (H.R. 3860) on 02/01/12. This bill did not progress beyond referral to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

On 07/19/12, President Obama issued a memorandum with the subject "Ensuring the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) Protections." While this memorandum served to establish a "USERRA Employment Protection Working Group," it did not allocate additional resources to enforce and investigate employer discrimination against reservists returning from active duty. Rather, it simply directed participating agencies to "allocate sufficient resources to effectively implement the requirements of this memorandum, subject to the availability of appropriations."

On 09/28/16, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the "Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Improvement Act of 2016" (S. 3445) to improve the enforcement of employment and reemployment rights of members of the uniformed services. This bill expired without action at the end of CY2016 with the 114th Congress.

This promise was not fulfilled.
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VA-12
The Promise: "...will create a new 'Green Vet Initiative' that will have two missions: first it will offer counseling and job placement to help veterans gain the skills to enter this rapidly growing field; second, it will work with industry partners to create career pathways and educational programs."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "New Energy for America" dated 09/06/08.
Source: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/edg/media/Obama_New_Energy_0804.pdf
Status:As of 10/11, the jobless rate among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans grew to 12.1% according to Department of Labor statistics, 3% higher than the national average of 9.1% for that month (see table on Home Page). This 12.1% veteran unemployment rate was up from 10% in 11/10, which was up from 8.4% in 07/10 and up from 7.7% in 07/09. The primary reason is that few of the skills acquired by our warfighters were directly transferable to the civilian sector. This percentage will only worsen as US troops are pulled from Iraq by end-CY2011 and Afghanistan by end-CY2014.

Nonetheless, under the Veterans Workforce Investment Program, $7M was allocated to create 3,000 jobs for veterans in the green sector.

The Department of Labor had a separate $100M initiative, created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, that funds green training for veterans.

In the private sector, "Green Collar Vets," headquartered in Mansfield, TX, "provides online assistance to veterans in selecting and securing their next career in the rapidly-growing, multi-faceted green industries." They can be reached at "www.greencollarvets.org".

On 08/05/11, President Obama announced the creation of a new career readiness training proposal, dubbed a "reverse boot camp," to assist troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to better transition to the civilian workforce. In his announcement, President Obama also proposed tax credit incentives for companies to hire unemployed and disabled veterans and returning service men and women at a cost of approximately $120M over two years. Legislation supporting these initiatives was signed into law on 08/03/11 as the "Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011" (H.R. 1383) sponsored by Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL).

The "3% Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act" (H.R. 674) was introduced by Congressman Walter Herger (R-CA) on 02/11/11. Title II of H.R. 674 passed by the Senate on 11/10/11 in a rare 95-0 vote (Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) voted "Present" and four senators did not vote) is entitled "VOW to Hire Heroes." Subtitle A of Title II, entitled "Retraining Veterans" provides for the retraining of 45K veterans during FY2012 and 54K veterans during the period 10/01/12 through 03/31/14. Funding for this program will come from amounts either appropriated to or otherwise made available to the Department of Veterans Affairs for the payment of veteran readjustment benefits. Eligible veterans are estimated to be approximately 20 times the numbers cited above.

Section 261 of Title II, entitled "Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Work Opportunity Tax Credits" grants tax credits of up to $5,600 for employers hiring veterans who have been unemployed for at least six months; grants employers a $2,400 credit for hiring veterans unemployed for more than four weeks; grants tax credits of up to $9,600 for hiring disabled veterans who have been seeking work for more than six months; provides benefits to aging veterans for continued education; provides an additional year of help for job-hunting disabled vets; and allows warfighters to apply for jobs before being discharged. Close scrutiny of this bill did not reveal any connection to "green job" related initiatives.

H.R. 674 was signed into law by President Obama on 11/21/11.

While no formal federal level "Green Vet Initiative" has been created as promised, the programs initiated and the funds allocated to date for satisfying the two stated missions constitute promise fulfillment, as does the new tax credit incentives for industry to hire veterans. For example, the Denver-based non-profit organization "Veterans Green Job" has initiated a new "Veterans Green Force" recruitment and placement program that aims to place 300 veterans in "green" jobs by mid-CY2013.

This promise has been fulfilled.
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