July 10, 2011

With High Unemployment Rate Among Young Vets, Gillibrand Joined By NYC Vets Announces New Push To Equip Returning Troops With Job Training Skills

After Putting Their Lives On the Line, More Than 20% of Young Vets Nationwide are Unemployed After Returning Home

New York, NY – With more than 20% of young veterans nationwide unemployed after returning home, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was joined by a group of New York City veterans today in Manhattan to announce a new legislative push for passage of the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 this year to help create more job opportunities for our veterans. Among other measures, the legislation seeks to help create new jobs for returning veterans through increased job training, personal employment assessments and changing federal hiring practices. The legislation would equip all returning U.S. troops with critical job-skills training through the government’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which provides job-search techniques and resume and interviewing workshops.

Senator Gillibrand said, “Too many of our troops who risked their lives protecting our country are returning home to an alarming rate of joblessness. This is unacceptable and we must do more. We must combat this growing crisis by providing our highly talented pool of veterans with a pathway towards economic success. When our brave men and women come home, we need to ensure they are equipped with the job skills needed so they can provide for their families.”

“Job creation is IAVA's number one priority this year,” said IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff.  “We consistently hear from our members that the challenges in this job market are mounting. They need jobs and skills training to transition into the civilian workforce, and we're encouraged to see that Senator Gillibrand is pushing to pass this important legislation. IAVA is the largest new veterans group headquartered in New York City, so we see firsthand the difficulties New York veterans are facing finding work. This year's RAND/New York State Health Foundation report on veterans shows that these trends are more than anecdotal. New veterans in New York state have an unemployment rate of thirteen percent, so for them, this legislation will be especially helpful. There is a long road ahead, but IAVA is laser-focused on lowering the new veteran unemployment rate by Veterans Day 2011. We are committed to working with Congress to push this legislation until it gets to the President's desk for a signature.”

“New Yorkers must support Senator Gillibrand and her leadership to pass this bill which is crucial for New York veterans, especially our neediest veterans who face financial destitution from long periods of unemployment and underemployment”, said Wesley Poriotis, Founder of Veterans Across America, a non-profit dedicated to helping veterans find jobs. “VAA supports Senator Gillibrand’s advocacy for veteran economic well-being and will continue to provide Champion Mentors, as Career Advocates, to achieve veteran employment.

To combat the rising joblessness among young soldiers and provide them a roadmap to employment, Senator Gillibrand is pushing for passage of the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, which would require all departing service members to get job training skills through the government’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which provides job-search techniques and resume and interviewing workshops. According to the Department of Defense, up to one-third of service members currently do not participate in the voluntary program, led by the Labor Department in partnership with the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

Additionally, the bill would enhance the TAP program by providing each veteran with a personal assessment of their employment opportunities based on their service experience.  After training, federal agencies would also be required to follow up with veterans on their job search – within six months of the training program and every three months after leaving service for the first year.  This information would be used to improve the effectiveness of the TAP program and increase the quality of job training available to exiting service members. 

To boost the number of jobs for returning service members, the bill would change federal hiring practices that allow soldiers to begin the federal employment process before they leave the military and encourage hiring of more service members. The bill would also create a competitive grant program for non-profits that provide mentorship and job training programs in an effort to boost job placements with private-sector companies. 

And to make the transition easier for service members who already have technical skill sets, such as driving a military ambulance, agencies would also have to identify ways to eliminate barriers in moving from military employment into civilian jobs.

According to the Department of Labor, more than 20% of young veterans nationwide between the ages of 18 and 24 were unemployed in 2010.

Out of a total estimated 17,000 New York City soldiers among all ages who have served our country since 9/11, 13.3 percent—more than 2,000 Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans in the city—are unemployed.

Borough

Number
of Iraq and Aghanistan-Era Vets

Unemployed Iraq and Aghanistan-Era Vets June 2011

Bronx

3,175

422

Brooklyn

4,920

654

Manhattan

3,130

416

Queens

4,452

592

Staten Island

1,596

212

Source: New York State Department of Labor, U.S. Census