Military Matters

Jan 11, 2013 2:16 PM by MTN News - Helena

Baucus announces bill to help unemployed veterans find work

U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) announced a new policy initiative aimed at helping unemployed veterans find work.

Baucus addressed both Houses of the Montana Legislature on Thursday afternoon, saying that 1,000 Montana veterans are out of work.

He says that his proposal will help veterans transfer the skills they learn in the military to the civilian world.

Baucus says his bill would apply to positions such as mechanics, truck drivers, EMTs, firefighters, police, and air traffic controllers.

Here is the portion of Baucus' speech dealing with the issue:

The very first bill I introduce in the new congress will help us sharpen the weapons we need to win.

First, it will expand our efforts to make sure veterans can transfer the skills they learn in the military into the civilian job market.

If you're certified to operate as a mechanic in Kabul, you ought to be certified in Billings without having to jump through hoops.

So last year I started a pilot program to make sure that when our troops train to do a job in the military they earn their civilian licenses at the same time.

This effort is already underway for EMTs, mechanics and truck drivers.

But it's time to expand it to firefighters, military police, air traffic controllers, and countless other positions.

These men and women are getting the best training in the world. And their work ethic is second to none.

We need to do our part to help them bring those same skills into their lives back home.

Second, my bill will demand accountability and transparency from the agencies in charge of getting the job done.

Right now there are six different programs tasked with tackling veteran unemployment just between the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Labor. Six.

And yet, in 2011, 1,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were unemployed in Montana, and 234,000 nationwide, according to the Joint Economic Committee.

That doesn't add up.

So, my bill will require agencies to set measurable goals for improving coordination.

And because there's nothing like sunshine to light a fire under folks, it will require them to submit annual reports to Congress -- and more importantly to the American people.