For our newest and youngest veterans, ages 18-24, unemployment is at the extremely high rate of 20 percent.  Perhaps even more troubling, 700,000 veterans between the ages of 35 and 64 are unemployed. These years of life typically provide the highest earning potential as well as the greatest financial requirements to pay for such items as mortgages and children’s tuitions. 

These men and women have placed their lives on the line in the defense of freedom and democracy around the globe, and it is imperative that we do a better job of helping them find meaningful employment when they return home.

That is why I introduced H.R. 4220, the Promoting Jobs for Veterans Act of 2009, which would provide funding and incentives for veterans to access employment training, and expand opportunities for veteran-owned and service disabled veteran-owned small businesses. More specifically, H.R. 4220 includes provisions which would:

• Re-authorize the Department of Veterans (VA) Veteran Owned Small Business Loan Guaranty Program to guarantee up to $500,000 in loans for veterans to purchase small businesses;
• Provide a zip code-based housing stipend for veterans participating in an approved on-the-job training or apprenticeship program;
• Provide a $500 a month stipend to veterans who are new teachers and are teaching in a rural area;
• Authorize VA to enter into sole source contracts with veteran-owned small businesses, like it currently does with minority and women owned firms;

In addition to helping our most deserving citizens, the provisions of this bill would provide a boost to our entire national economy. It is a well known and accepted fact that following World War II, utilization of the GI Bill by returning veterans led to the greatest economic expansion and prosperity in our nation’s history.

I believe that veterans still remain the most viable candidates to serve as the catalyst to economic recovery.  Veterans are dedicated employees and engaged entrepreneurs, and this bill would expand job and entrepreneurial opportunities for these selfless individuals. I hope that Congressional leaders will consider including the provisions of this legislation in any “jobs package” that might be considered now or in the near future.