White House prods health centers to hire more vets

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The healthcare reform law made an $11.5 billion investment in community health centers through 2015 for construction and staffing. The National Association of Community Health Centers is on board with the challenge, which includes a partnership with officials from the departments of Health, Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs to help connect veterans with health clinic job openings.

The physician assistant initiative, meanwhile, seeks to promote programs with expedited curricula that can quickly train military medics for physician assistant jobs.

The government has invested $45 million to support physician assistant training programs since 2010. The HRSA will begin by providing technical assistance to more than 21 training programs to better serve veterans starting the week of Veterans Day.

The initiatives come on the heels of other White House efforts to put veterans back to work. Last month, the administration announced it would give grants in priority to nurse training programs that serve veterans by giving military medics credit for their service.

The jobless rate for veterans was 8.7 percent last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, adding up to more than 200,000 people. Those who served after the Sept. 11 attacks have been hit especially hard, with 11.5 percent unemployed last year.