First bill when Senate returns deals with jobless veterans

The Veterans Job Corps Act would create new job-training programs to help veterans find jobs in targeted fields such as national park conservation, historic preservation projects, police officers and firefighters, among others.

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Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced the bill, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

“This bill contains ideas from both sides of the aisle, is fully paid for with bipartisan spending offsets and should not be controversial at a time when our veterans continue to struggle,” Murray said at an event in her home state with Secretary of Veterans' Affairs Eric Shinseki. "It will be job No. 1 when we return, and I am hopeful that regardless of party affiliation this is an idea that we can all get behind.”

The $1 billion bill establishes a Veterans Job Corps for five years. The bill would set up a pilot program that would allow veterans to search for jobs on a new website, and create “one-stop job centers” where they could receive help using the site, if needed. 

The bill also establishes a Transition Assistance Program for veterans and their spouses in a few states with the highest levels of unemployed vets. 

“It’s a bill that is modeled off successful job-training programs across the country and in states like ours,” Murray said. “And it’s a bill based on President Obama’s call to hire more veterans as police officers, firefighters and in our national parks.”

Some veterans receive on-the-job training while in service, but that doesn’t always transfer over into civilian life. S. 3457 would make it easier for veterans to get job certifications and licenses in states by counting military training that’s relevant to become certified as a nursing assistant, to get a commercial driver's license or an EMT license. 

Murray also pointed out that the bill would “help hire qualified veterans as first responders” at a time when law enforcement agencies desperately need qualified people.