Laws Must Stand Up For Returning Troops: Legislative Spotlight
by: Troops to Trades
September 20, 2016
By Sean Patrick Maloney
My dad was nearly killed while serving our country aboard the U.S.S. Manchester. When he left the hospital, the GI Bill helped him go to Boston College. Then he got a job, bought a home, and helped raise six kids. He achieved the American dream because his country had his back. But today, that dream is slipping away from an entire generation of veterans who come home to find no jobs waiting for them.
You sent me to Congress to get things done for the Hudson Valley — despite Washington gridlock. So when veterans and their families told me stories of returning home just to struggle getting by, I knew we had to get to work. At that time, the unemployment rate among wounded service members was almost 18 percent. In fact, it often took veterans six years or more to find a job through the VA’s employment program. I introduced the bipartisan Wounded Warrior Improvement Act to reform this program and help assist, train and find jobs for veterans who have service-connected disabilities. This bill was signed into law last year and the reforms will be rolled out in coming weeks.
But we need to do much more. This year, I introduced the Air Traffic Controller Hiring Improvement Act, to improve the hiring and staffing of air traffic controllers. Bureaucratic rules governing who can be an air traffic controller have made it difficult to hire veterans for those jobs — even those who’ve served as air traffic controllers landing military aircrafts on aircraft carriers and bases around the world. Not only were these dumb rules causing an air traffic controller shortage, highly-skilled veterans were being shut out for no reason. So I teamed up with a Republican colleague and worked together to pass a bill and fix the problem. Now that our bill has been signed into law, veterans will have a leg up in the hiring process and airports like Dutchess County Airport will have the air traffic controllers they need to run efficiently.
Our veterans are facing more problems than just unemployment. That’s why I’ve passed legislation to cut red tape at the VA, and am working to end veteran homelessness, and improve educational opportunities for our veterans. I wrote legislation to make it easier for our veterans to go to college by automatically forgiving student loans for disabled veterans, and I’m working across the aisle on a bill to ensure the VA is providing top-notch comprehensive and specialized health care for our veterans.
I believe it is our duty as Americans, and my job as your representative, to get things done for those who sacrificed and served our country in the Armed Forces. They represent the best our country has to offer, and they deserve a government that works for them.