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Congressman Don Young Joins Colleagues in Creating Veterans Congressional Fellowship Caucus

Caucus will work to increase the number of veterans working on Capitol Hill

Washington, D.C. – Alaskan Congressman Don Young today joined Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA-5), Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL-01) and Ranking Member Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) to announce the formation of the bipartisan Veterans Congressional Fellowship Caucus. The Caucus, with the mission of increasing the number of veterans working on Capitol Hill, was launched today by veterans Young (U.S. Army 1955-1957) and Thompson (U.S. Army 1967-1973) and will begin accepting its first participants this summer.

“I’m a veteran and proud of it. When I took the oath of office in 1973, three-fourths of the Congress was made up of veterans; now less than 20% of Congress is veterans,” said Congressman Don Young in prepared remarks. “The purpose of this caucus is to make sure that veterans have the opportunity to learn the type of skills needed on Capitol Hill. By employing veterans, things like sequestration, the VA COLA reduction, the whole array of things that Congress doesn’t understand in terms of how they affect veterans would not happen. If we have veterans working in our offices, they could change the attitudes of Congress. I kept hearing, ‘you’ve got to hire veterans; let’s hire more veterans. This is our duty.’ I hear it on the House floor all the time. When we found out the percentage of veterans on the Hill, I was disgusted.”

Congressman Young speaking today at the introduction of the Veterans Congressional Fellowship Caucus (click above to watch an excerpt, click here for the complete press conference)

According to a recent survey by HillVets, an organization for veterans in politics and government, the latest confirmed count of veterans working on Capitol Hill is 98 veterans out of approximately 6,060 Capitol Hill employees. 55 percent of Congressional offices responded to HillVets’ recent survey. By extrapolating a similar proportion of veteran hires to the non-responsive offices HillVets projects that no more than 178 veterans are working in personal offices on Capitol Hill, or less than 3% overall.

Congressman Young and Congressman Mike Thompson founded the new veteran fellowship program and caucus with hopes of further engaging our nation’s veterans in the political process. Congressman Young says that our nation’s veterans have already dedicated so much to serve this great nation and he feels confident this program will give them the skills and resources needed to continue their service on Capitol Hill.

Veteran fellows will be placed in participating offices, participate in an educational curriculum where they will learn the legislative process, areas of policy and how to succeed in a Capitol Hill office. The fellows will be provided a certificate at the end of their fellowship highlighting their completion of the program.

Veterans who are interested in applying for the fellowship program can apply here: http://donyoung.house.gov/constituentservices/veterans-fellowship-program.htm.

Statements from press conference participants:

 “Our veterans are some of the most skilled workers our country has to offer. They are leaders who have been tested under pressure, and they will be tremendous assets to Congressional offices. As a veteran, I understand we have a responsibility to help those who’ve served our nation find a job when they return home. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in officially launching this bipartisan caucus that, through our new fellowship program, will work to increase the number of veterans working on Capitol Hill and provide our heroes with new skills to help them excel in the civilian workforce.”  Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA-5)

“When it comes to giving veterans a chance to land a good job and achieve the American Dream, Congress should be leading the way. Nearly one third of House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs majority staffers wore the uniform prior to their time on the Hill, a fact of which I am extremely proud. Our committee will continue to make an extra effort to hire veterans, and I urge all of my colleagues to do the same.” – Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL-01), Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

“Our veterans make incredible sacrifices for our country, and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to help these honorable men and women transition into the civilian workforce. Through their service, veterans gain a wide array of skills that will make them integral parts of Congressional offices. This program benefits not only our veterans, but Hill offices who stand to gain talented and motivated fellows.” – Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME-2), Ranking Member, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

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