Jeff Miller Goes to Bat for Unemployed Veterans

Panhandle GOP Congressman looks to expand training opportunities for out-of-work vets
By: Kevin Derby | Posted: July 19, 2011 3:55 AM
Jeff Miller

US Rep. Jeff Miller

Noting that almost a million veterans are out of work and the number seems to be rising, Florida Republican Congressman Jeff Miller this month introduced the Veteran Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act of 2011.

Miller insisted that his bill, which will allow more veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 to attend community colleges and technical schools, would be an important step toward his ultimate goal of reducing the unemployment rate among veterans to below 5 percent.

Miller, the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs, argues that his proposal will remove barriers in the system and help educate and train veterans returning to the civilian work force.

“In today’s economic environment, finding meaningful employment is difficult, and it’s no different if you are a veteran,” said Miller on Friday. “We must come together as a nation to keep our promise to those who have protected not only our liberty, but the American way of life. It is our duty to welcome these men and women back into society and match their skills with jobs.”

The bill has already generated 11 co-sponsors including Florida Republican Congressmen Gus Bilirakis, the vice chairman of the committee; John Mica; and freshman Allen West.

If passed, Miller’s legislation will require the federal Labor Department, with the help of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide retraining assistance for veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 during all of 2012 and 2013, and the first three months of 2014. Miller’s bill will allow 45,000 veterans to be retrained during 2012 and 55,000 thereafter through community colleges and technical schools, and will lead to either an associate’s degree or completion of a certificate. The congressman, who represents the Florida Panhandle, noted that two-thirds of unemployed veterans are between the ages of 35 and 64 years.

“This can’t be done in a vacuum,” insisted Miller. “We must address our economic problems, while ensuring veterans have the hard skills that will be in demand as the economy recovers.

“This legislation is the beginning of that objective,” continued Miller. “Veterans are born leaders, hard-working and honest -- characteristics employers seek. I am committed to reducing the veterans’ unemployment rate to below 5 percent over the next two years. They kept their vow to us, now it’s our turn to vow to help them.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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