Economic Opportunities Committee
Current Committee Report
BY FRANK BARRY, CHAIR
Public Affairs Resolution P-7 requires that each com- mittee report annually to the membership on its progress in implementing the organization's resolutions. Here is a progress report on the resolutions of the Economic Opportunities Committee. Please note that this is just a sampling of the involvement of our committee members.
Jobs and Job Training: Every two years VVA prepares its legislative agenda. The EOC is working with congressional staff to ensure that veterans are accorded Veterans' Preference when applying for government jobs and are given every advantage when seeking employment in private industry or in attempting to set up their own businesses. Jobs will focus on in-demand occupations such as IT and the medical field.
The EOC is working with the Department of Labor to ensure that the Transition Assistance Program actually helps separating and demobilized service members learn about their options for employment, education, and entrepreneurship. One of the committee members attended the week-long TAP in San Diego to gain firsthand knowledge of that experience.
The EOC is working with Congress and the Department of Labor to significantly reform the Veterans Employment and Training Service Program that is run by individual states but funded through the U.S. Department of Labor, so that it actually matches veterans with jobs.
Veterans in Business: Committee members are working with agencies and committees to promote veterans business development, including the Small Business Association Veterans Business Advisory Committee, the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development, Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities, and Veteran Business Outreach Centers.
Supporting Legislation: The EOC supports H.R. 2882, which moves the VA Veterans Small Business Verification Process to the Small Business Administration, and H.R. 2327, which creates an Economic Opportunity Administration and moves the Center for Verification and Evaluation there.
The committee also supports H.R. 3395, which extends the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for veterans to December 2017 and simplifies the certification of veteran status by the presence of the following documentation: the veteran's DD-214; proof of receipt of unemployment compensation, which could include copies of unemployment checks received or other proof of unemployment compensation payments; and an affidavit signed by the veteran stating that he or she is an eligible veteran and has been unemployed for four weeks to six months or for more than six months prior to the date of hire.
Committee Report - October 12, 2013
The EOC was attended by Gordon Pavy of the AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council, which brings together union veterans on issues that matter most to veterans and their families, from good jobs and training to accessing quality health care. Of interest to the EOC is the work that the Council does to strengthen and enforce veterans’ preference laws and in ensuring Congress fully funds such programs as Helmets to Hardhats, Troops to Teachers, Veterans in Piping, and Veterans in Construction Electrical.
Important legislative issues discussed: H.R. 2882--Improving Opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Act of 2013--which is still in committee but proposes to move the CVE (Center for Veterans Enterprise, now renamed Center for Verification and Evaluation) from under the control of the VA to the Small Business Administration. The EOC proposes the VVA support this change, and the Government Affairs Committee voted in agreement.
Also discussed was the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program announced Final Rules, establishing new regulations which will go into effect March 1, 2014--federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to adopt tangible hiring goals for individuals with disabilities and devise benchmarks (read quotas) for companies with over 50 employees, which will be required to hire 7 percent disabled veterans and 8 percent veterans overall--which the committee agrees will lead to more paperwork and raises the question: Will there be enough veterans for companies to meet their goals? Companies hire for need, not quotas.
The committee also examined the American Legion’s Amicus Brief in the service disabled veteran-owned business case. It called for the Federal Circuit to reverse a ruling that found the VA isn’t obliged to set aside more contracts for veteran-owned small businesses, arguing that the VA is subverting the will of Congress.
The EOC will continue to follow these cases carefully as they do affect the economic opportunities for all veterans.
Thank you for your support.
Committee Report - April 20, 2013
President Rowan, Board Members, and Fellow Veterans
The Economic Opportunities Committee again had the opportunity to interact with members of two important government agencies to promote the economic well being of all veterans.
At this week’s committee meeting, Director Timothy Green, Office of Strategic Outreach, Office of the Assistant Secretary, US Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (DOL VETS), spoke about the ACVETEO -- the Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment, Training, and Employer Outreach, whose mission is to assess employment and training needs of veterans. This committee is in the process of rewriting its charter and will meet in May. Since the new secretary has not been confirmed, Director Green is working with the acting secretary and asked for the EOC’s suggestions and invited members to attend the next ACVETEO Meeting. He discussed some items in the President’s budget: five million dollars has been added for TAP (Transitional Assistance Program); and the state grants program has been increased to add 500 Disabled Veterans Outreach Programs. The EOC again stressed the need for accountability from those who are supposed to be helping veterans find out what services are really being provided. There was a recommendation that those serving veterans be veterans themselves since they better understand the needs of veterans.
Also speaking to the committee was Curtis L. Coy, Deputy Under Secretary Office of Economic Opportunity for the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration who spoke about TAP and the improvements that will help the 1.5 million veterans who will be leaving the military in the next five years transition into the civilian workforce. He also gave an update on the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which was signed into law last fall. It includes tax credits for employers who hire veterans; and it provides for retraining assistance for 113,000 veterans (94,000 applications have already been processed). The 45,000 in schools must attend full-time. Applications will be accepted until October. TAP is offering three tracks to returning veterans: an educational track; a technology track; and an entrepreneur track. Two new initiatives include the Vet Success on Campus Program, which includes work study and IDES-Individual Disability Education System.
Thank you for your support.
Committee Report - October 2012
Good afternoon, President Rowan, Board Members, and fellow veterans,
The Economic Opportunity Committee continues to build relationships with the movers and shakers who can positively affect the economic opportunities for all veterans.
Our meeting was attended by John K. Moran, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service at the Department of Labor along with Major Brian J. Ketz, Military Fellow at VETS. Mr. Moran made a point that the young veterans returning (there will be over 1.5 million) don’t know what they are going to need to make that transition into civilian employment. His point was that they are going to need the Veteran Service Organizations’ combined resources to better serve them.
Mr. Moran stressed that DOL wants to be more proactive in reaching out to the returning veterans. Our committee members stressed the need for accountability and having measurable objectives in service to our veterans. There is a need for service organizations to know ahead of time who is coming out (it was suggested at least 90 days before). Mr. Moran stated that the TAP program has been improved to include more financial planning and resources for those who want to work for themselves. He promised to come back regularly and work with the committee in helping DOL be more proactive.
Another guest speaker at our meeting was Rhett Jeppson, Associate Administrator, Office of Veterans Business Development for the Small Business Administration, who stressed the need to access capital for veterans who want to start their own businesses. There was a discussion about franchising as a resource for veterans and that 50% of current franchises are owned by veterans. He listened as the committee talked about the problems with the Center for Veterans Enterprise and the certification process that was hindering veterans from starting their own businesses. Members of our committee are working on a proposal to fix some of those problems. Mr. Jeppson also promised to work closely with our committee as changes are made at the SBA.
I was able to talk this week with Paul “Buddy” Bucha who is Chairman of ACVETEO (Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment, Training, and Employer Outreach) who discussed issues that are of importance to all veterans. He is a valuable resource for our committee.
It is clear that members of the committee have the knowledge, expertise, and most importantly the respect of these agencies who were present at our meeting. The EOC will continue to positively impact the future economic opportunities for our veterans.Thank you.
BY FRANK BARRY
The VVA Economic Opportunity Committee, as required by Convention Resolution, provides this yearly report.
In keeping with the committee’s priorities, the focus was on jobs in the public and private sector, veterans who own or wish to own small businesses, identification of training to enhance quality of life for veterans and their families.
The committee supported various legislative initiatives: the VOW Act which President Obama signed in December; the Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act of 2011 which creates new businesses for veterans; Fairness to Veterans Act of 2011; National Guard Employment Protection Act of 2011;Help Veterans Own Franchises Act; Franchise Education for Veterans Act and the VET Act of 2011 which will allow veterans to use their educational benefits to start or purchase a qualifying business enterprise. A package of these bills will accompany President John Rowan when he testifies on the Hill in March.
Policies that the committee is challenging: the VA’s Vets First Policy for Service Disabled Veterans Small Businesses; the VA’s on-going recertification for disqualifying any veteran owned business; failure of most federal agencies to meet their objectives in procurement contracting.
In collaboration with other committees, the EOC is drafting legislation to stop predatory proprietary schools who are receiving veterans’ GI Bill funds without providing adequate training for securing jobs or valid degrees.
Another area of concern is veteran unemployment. The committee is raising awareness of the real unemployment problem which is in the National Guard and Reserve, not those coming off active duty as portrayed in the press. The committee will work on supporting legislation that addresses the unemployment of three groups: transitioning military/veterans, Reservists, and National Guard.
Respectfully submitted by Frank Barry, EOC Chair.
April 20, 2012
Call to Order
In Attendance: Frank Barry, Ric Davidge, Ted Daywalt, Marc Goldschmitt, Bob Hesser, Paul Ignosh, Dave Johnston, Rick Weidman, and Joe Wynn. Also attending Darrol L. Brown, President Nevada State Council.
· Expanding Education & Training: To begin moving veterans out of the unemployment lines, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 provides nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI Bill benefits to qualify for jobs in high-demand sectors, from trucking to technology. It also provides disabled veterans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits up to 1-year of additional VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits.
· Improving the Transition Assistance Program (TAP): Too many service members don’t participate in TAP and enter civilian life without a basic understanding of how to compete in a tight job market. Therefore, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act makes TAP mandatory for most service members transitioning to civilian status, upgrades career counseling options, and job hunting skills, as well as ensures the program is tailored to individuals and the 21st Century job market.
· Facilitating Seamless Transition: Getting a civil service job can often take months which often forces a veteran to seek unemployment benefits. To shorten the time to start a federal job after discharge, this bill allows service members to begin the federal employment process by acquiring veterans preference status prior to separation. This facilitates a more seamless transition to civil service jobs at VA, or the many other federal agencies that would benefit from hiring our veterans.
· Translating Military Skills and Training: This bill also requires the Department of Labor to take a hard look at how to translate military skills and training to civilian sector jobs, and will work to make it easier to get the licenses and certification our veterans need.
· Veterans Tax Credits: The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides tax credits for hiring veterans and disabled veterans who are out of work.
Staff Director Brinck said that the new TAP briefings will be mandatory for all military personnel (with some exceptions) where the vets will be more informed about the resources available to them. He stated that some veterans would be eligible for an extra 24 months of Voc Rehab if their initial 26 weeks had already been used. Under the VOW Act, there is a provision to implement a Veterans Retraining & Assistance Program (VRAP) where older veterans can get 12 months of retraining assistance in high demand occupations and $1,500 per month.
Staff Director Brinck stated that there is still a stigma associated with vets who acknowledge that they have PTSD. Ted Daywalt stated that some people even believe that PTSD is contagious.
Committee members had the opportunity to ask questions and clarify the intent of the legislation.
Next Committee Meeting October 5, 2012 in Silver Spring
Did you know?
As you are aware OPM has developed Feds Hire Vets web site to assist in the Veterans Employment Initiative? Go to www.fedshirevets.gov for more information.
BY RIC DAVIDGE, CHAIR We call it Econ Ops. That’s short for Economic Opportunities Committee. Why the change? Very few people understood what the old ETaBO Committee was, and we have decided to adjust our priorities.
The committee will now put as much effort into helping veterans become successful in starting their own business. We will not abandon our charge of ensuring that the federal government meets its responsibilities to service-disabled, veteran-owned businesses, but we know that many new veterans want to start their own businesses.
Keeping Alaskans Out of the Cold
STATE OF ALASKA REPORT TO GOVERNOR FRANK MURKOWSKI
VetJobs, Leading Internet
“We at Vietnam Veterans of America are pleased to endorse VetJobs, the nation’s largest military-related job board on the Internet,” said John Rowan, VVA National President. “With the unemployment rate of newly discharged military veterans hovering around 15 percent–three times the national unemployment rate–VetJobs is a key resource for them and for Vietnam-era veterans too young to retire.
“We have looked at many sites that purport to provide jobs for veterans and their family members,” Rowan said. “Our endorsement is meant to let our members know that VVA recognizes the success that VetJobs has had in finding quality jobs for thousands of veterans and their family members. We encourage them to use the VetJobs site: www.VetJobs.com.”