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Economic Opportunities Committee Report, September/October 2014

Ready To Work
BY FRANK BARRY, CHAIR

Last issue’s topic was the transitioning of returning veterans from the military to the civilian workforce. The challenge is in translating those military skills into civilian language so that employers fully appreciate the skills that veterans bring to the workforce. Most are ready to work, but the question is: Are there ready-to-be-filled jobs awaiting them? And, is there job training available?

In President Obama’s State of the Union Address on January 28, 2014, he stated:

I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: Train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to the good jobs that need to be filled right now. And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.

What are some of the initiatives that will help veterans prepare for the workforce?

  • Engaging employers in partnerships to define needed skills, offer apprenticeships, and hire graduates.
  • Competitive grants to launch hundreds of job-driven industry partnerships across the country—$950 million in job-driven grants will be awarded to more than a hundred partnerships this fall.
  • Expanding American apprenticeships—$100 million available.
  • Using a job-driven checklist to ensure $15 billion in job training funds are more effective.

Due to the changes in the job market, many veterans will be seeking training for jobs in high-tech industries. I have been involved in one such initiative in Southern California. A partnership between the North Orange County Community College District and Fullerton College (the training location) offers training in three high-tech industries: printing (label and packaging), machine technology, and welding technology. Trainees must be U.S. veterans and attend the sixteen weeks of training classes daily. The training includes an industry-approved certification, and all classroom and tuition costs are paid by a grant. The program offers 12-26 college credits, depending on the program and job placement assistance. Veterans can apply and find more information by contacting Jonathan Carrasco at jcarrasco@sce.edu

A caution about training programs and schools: Do your homework before signing any commitment. Not all institutions are reputable. For example: Even after announcing its closure, Corinthian Colleges continued to recruits students and to travel to military installations to speak with active-duty service members, according to Student Veterans of America (SVA). Due to such abusive practices, SVA created a “Not Recommended” schools list.

The Economic Opportunities Committee will continue to monitor job training and employment opportunities, and will disseminate that information to benefit all veterans.


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
Committee Minutes
2:15 pm-4:15 pm   Tier II committee meetings-Blair Room

Call to Order
            The meeting was called to order at 2:15 pm

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.  

Old Business
            Deferred for presentation.           

New Business
The EOC was honored to have as a guest speaker Mike Brinck, Republican Staff Director House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. Committee members were given an update on the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 which was signed into law by President Obama in November of 2011. Staff Director Brinck explained that the best provision was the retraining which would affect two-thirds of unemployed veterans 35-60 years old who could enroll in any trade technical school or community college and receive $1500 a month for up to twelve months. The first applications will be out at the end of May with retraining starting the 1st of July and the first checks scheduled to be received by August 1st.

· 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.
The VRAP should be starting in July with early registrations starting in May 2012. Mike stated that 2/3 of all unemployed veterans are 35 – 60 years old. The program will cost approximately $1.6 billion. As for Priority of Service in WIA programs, all veterans are considered dislocated workers.
Staff Director Brinck talked about the VA’s Veterans Small Business Verification Process being conducted by CVE – the Center for Veterans Enterprise. He and many others are disappointed with a number of CVE’s policies that are causing hundreds of veterans to be denied the opportunity to do business with the VA. He believes that CVE needs to be fixed by having a reasonable process for verification and should follow the Small Business Act.
However, as the author of Section 8127 of Public Law 109-461 that created the Vets First Contracting Program at VA, he stated that the provisions of Section 8127 only apply in meeting the VA Secretary’s goals. Therefore, once they are met, the VA does not have to continue SDVOB set-asides for that fiscal year.
He also provided comments on several Bills pending that were of interest to the VVA Econ Opps committee.

  • HR4072 – which proposes to move DOL-VETS staff, programs, resources, etc. to the VA and create a new Deputy Under Sectary at the VA. DOL-VETS would cease to exist. It will also combine the DVOP & LVER into one position. The proposed Bill was not opposed by VA or DOL in testimony. And even though the Democrats opposed the Bill in subcommittee, Mike believes there are still enough votes on the Republican side to pass because many believe that due to the location of DOL-VETS at Labor Dept., they get limited support compared to ETA. And by moving the entire office to VA would allow more control by the HVAC.
  • HR4051 – TAP Modernization Act is intended to get TAP-like training at another location outside of the service after discharge.

 

  • HR3524 – the Disabled Veterans Employment Protection Act for persons absent from employment for treatment of service-connected disabilities. Mike was opposed to this Bill.
  • HR3483 – the Veterans Education Equity Act – there is very little support.

 

  •  HR4048 – Improving Contracting Opportunities for VOBs which was introduced by Congressman Johnson was intended to allow the VA to select VOBs/SDVOBs from their Federal Supply Schedule in order to meet the VA Secretary’s goals.

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.
Staff Director Brinck thanked the VVA for its efforts in advocating for legislation that will enhance the economic opportunity for all veterans.

Next Committee Meeting October 5, 2012 in Silver Spring
Adjournment: The committee adjourned at 4:17 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Frank Barry.

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.

COMMITTEE REPORT:
Notion Of Economic Freedom

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.

[ read full article ]


STATE OF ALASKA REPORT TO GOVERNOR FRANK MURKOWSKI
RECOMMENDED STRATEGIES TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS

Read The Report [PDF]

VVA Endorses VetJobs, Leading Internet
Job Board for Veterans

“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.”

To Search for jobs, Click The Logo BelowVets Jobs Logo

See complete press release.

 

 

 

 

January 13, 2012
Committee Minutes

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