Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Breakthrough in Veterans Unemployment

On Monday, November 21, the Reserve Officers Association was invited to witness President Barack Obama sign into law the VOW to Hire Heroes Act. Combining both the Senate’s Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 and the House’s Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011, or the VOW Act, the law represents a comprehensive bipartisan effort to lower the rate of unemployment among the nation’s veterans. This milestone reflects months of activism within the government to help lower unemployment among our nation’s veterans, many of whom serve in the Reserve and National Guard components. 

Throughout this process, ROA has maintained its focus on developing tangible solutions for employing our returning service members. While this law represents a positive step forward, ROA remains concerned that Reserve Component affiliation often serves as an element of discrimination against those individuals seeking employment. Through attending round table discussions and hearings, and submitting testimony on Veterans Affairs and employment issues, ROA supported both bills introduced by the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees that ultimately became the compromised bill. ROA is pleased that Congress and President Obama were able to recognize the importance of these issues and act promptly. Further, ROA is proud to have been a participant in the course of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act and looks forward to its results in the months ahead. 

Today the men and women of our nation's Reserve Components face a challenge equally unique to their role as citizen warriors. After ten years of critical support to overseas operations, more than one in four veteran reservists are now unemployed. These service members are literally twice the citizen and yet they are nearly three times as likely to be unemployed. The Reserve Officers Association is deeply concerned that a fear of redeployment prevents civilian employers from recognizing the true value these individuals bring to the American work force. As thousands of veterans return home, ROA will continue a determined effort to ensure our nation's reservists are given the knowledge and support they need to be re-employed at rates consistent with their sacrifice. Passage of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act is an encouraging step forward, but we must not mistake this success for absolute victory. ROA remains committed to the complete reversal of veteran unemployment rates and the steadfast support of our service members.

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