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Begich Sponsors Veterans Employment Bill


Bill designed to help Alaska veterans find jobs

In an effort to find jobs and decrease the high unemployment rate for veterans who have served Alaska and our country, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich on April 20 introduced The Veterans Employment Act of 2010. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Begich, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), works to address an unemployment rate of 21 percent among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans through improved training, skills transition, educational opportunities, and small business assistance programs.

"After the initial excitement of coming home is gone, the reality of the challenges they face sets in. They need to know their government is there for them," Begich said. "They've asked for help with employment, help with opening a small business, and help with using their training in the private sector. This comprehensive legislation will address the unique needs of our veterans who have been struggling to find work and to keep their jobs."

The Veterans Employment Act has four key provisions to expand job training, placement services and business opportunities for veterans:

·         Establishes a Veteran Business Center Program within the Small Business Administration to provide critical entrepreneurial training and counseling to veterans;

·         Expands the Post-9/11 GI Bill to allow returning veterans to use the benefit for apprenticeship and worker training programs that will help them acquire the skills they need to find stable, family-wage jobs in their communities;

·         Creates pilot programs to test ways transitioning service members can build on the technical skills learned in the military and better market those skills in the civilian workforce;

·         Establishes a Veterans Conservation Corps Grant Program and a Veterans Energy/Green Jobs Grant Program to connect veterans with the green jobs market of the future.

Sen. Begich, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, in February held committee field hearings in Anchorage and Fairbanks where he heard a number of concerns from veterans related to finding stable employment after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans also expressed a desire for more opportunities to succeed in small business ventures.
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