Weekly Columns

Recent numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the economy added 155,000 jobs in December, but at 7.8 percent, the unemployment rate was unchanged. Too many Americans are still without jobs, including nearly 205,000 post-9/11 veterans, putting this group well above the national average unemployment rate. Unemployment is one of the biggest obstacles for our veterans. It’s time political parties put their differences aside and create policies that will have a big impact on the people who served and sacrificed for our country.

In the 113th Congress, we need to focus on reducing spending and increasing job opportunities. We have a solid start and are exploring legislative opportunities that allow the private sector to create jobs as well as provide our veterans with the tools they need to find employment and the true understanding of their benefits and how their skills can translate into employment.

A commonsense way to accomplish this is by modernizing the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). This allows our veterans and their families to have an understanding of how to successfully transfer their skills to well-paying jobs in civilian life. Our veterans deserve every opportunity to find gainful employment after leaving military service. Improving offerings of TAP classes at temporary off-base locations would provide options for our veterans and their families to get the vital information TAP offers if they missed out or need a refresher.

In the last Congress, I introduced legislation to update the TAP program and provide veterans with additional opportunities to find employment. Language from this bill was included as part of a larger veterans’ benefits package that was approved by Congress and is now law.

I am committed to decreasing the unemployment rate of our nation’s veterans. That’s why I recently joined the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus. This bipartisan, bicameral group will work to reduce unemployment among our veterans through sharing information with other Members of Congress and government and service organizations to provide solutions and implement programs to hire veterans and examining how we can be helpful through legislative efforts.

The men and women who served our country deserve every opporutnity we can provde so they can provide for their families. I am dedicated to working with my colleagues to honor those who have worn our nation's uniform by ensuring employment prospects await them when they leave the service.