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Senators introduce 2010 Veterans Employment Bill

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined with Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), veterans and veterans service organizations to unveil the Veterans Employment Act of 2010.

The bill, which was introduced in the Senate today, is the first legislation to take a comprehensive approach to addressing skyrocketing veterans' unemployment rates. The bill includes a series of proposals that improve training, skills transition, education, and small business assistance programs.

"When our soldiers sign up for service, there isn't a waiting line and there shouldn't be a waiting line when they come home and need a job," Klobuchar said. "Our troops have valuable skills and we need to help them transition their skills and experience into the workforce."

The legislation includes two bills previously introduced by Klobuchar: the Veterans-to-Paramedics Transition Act and the Post-9/11 Veterans' Job Training Act. The Veterans-to-Paramedics Transition Act would allow paramedic training received by veterans during their service to count towards civilian paramedic training programs.

The Post-9/11 Veterans' Job Training Act would expand the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to include opportunities for veterans to pursue job training and apprenticeship programs in addition to academic education programs.

"In far too many instances our veterans have come back home and had their resume lost in the stack," Murray said. "These are disciplined, dedicated individuals who will be great employees but who need help translating their skills into civilian careers."

"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 legislation fills a critical need," said Senator Murkowski. "Our veterans leave military service with exceptional leadership skills and valuable life lessons. Yet it is not evident that employers fully appreciate all that our veterans can bring to their workplace."

The Veterans Employment Act expands job training, placement services and entrepreneurship opportunities for veterans who may otherwise have fallen through the cracks. The Veterans Employment Act:

-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.

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