Thursday, May 21, 2015

AZ U.S. Rep.Martha McSally Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Help Veterans Get Access to Job Training Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ) today introduced the bipartisan Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act. 
The bill would help returning veterans transition to the civilian workforce by allowing them to use their educational benefits for enrollment in pre-apprenticeship programs.
“As a veteran, I know the difficulties our returning service members face as they look to transition to civilian life. This bill will make it easier for them to obtain good-paying jobs using the benefits they earned,”said Congresswoman Martha McSally. “Currently, there are trade and manufacturing jobs going unfilled in our community because there aren’t enough people with the skills needed for them. Opening up job training programs to veterans only makes sense and would be a win for local businesses too. Those who volunteered to put their lives on the line deserve all our efforts to help them, and I thank Rep. Gabbard for working with me on this commonsense legislation.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a veteran and fellow member of the Congressional post-9/11 Veterans Caucus, co-introduced the legislation.
“Our servicemembers develop valuable skills and experience while serving our nation, and should be able to access opportunities to further develop their skills to set themselves up for success as they transition into civilian life,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Chair of the Congressional post-9/11 Veterans Caucus. “Veterans still face many obstacles as they go through this transition. This bill works to make that transition smoother by enabling our veterans to use their GI Bill benefits for apprenticeship programs in the skilled-trade industry. While there is much to be done, this bill will help reduce the still too high numbers of unemployed veterans, and address the shortage of skilled workers in our country.”
Today’s legislation adds to Rep. McSally’s committed efforts to ensure veterans have access to the benefits they earned. On February 23, 2015, she joined 29 Members of Congress to call on the Administration to change the 40-mile eligibility measurement under the Veterans Choice Program from a straight-line measurement to road mileage, something the Administration announced it would do the following month. She also has called on the Administration to answer for its decision to raid funding for the Veterans Choice Program in its Fiscal Year 2016 budget and address how to meet a veteran’s specialty need should the VA clinic within 40 miles not offer it.
The Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act provides veterans the ability to use their educational benefits under the GI Bill to learn critical workplace skills. Currently, GI Bill benefits cannot be used to cover the cost of Department of Labor approved pre-apprenticeship programs. These programs teach the skills and techniques necessary to prepare individuals for apprenticeship training and careers in the skilled-trade industry. 
The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is nearly 7%, a full point higher than the national average. In certain industries, many veterans face barriers to entry into apprenticeship programs because they lack pre-apprenticeship training. 
The United States has seen a shortage of skilled workers in recent years. With an increasing number of post-9/11 veterans looking to enter the workforce, and an estimated 573,000 unemployed veterans in 2014, this bill will make it easier for service members to pursue careers in occupations that require an apprenticeship.

The bipartisan bill has 30 original cosponsors in the House. Additionally, the bill is supported by the National Guard Association of the United States, the Reserve Officers Association, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, the National Roofing Contractors Association, the National Association of Home Builders, and the Associated General Contractors of America.