APRIL 20, 2012 SENATE from Page 6
retraining and employment for recently separated veterans, veterans with service-connected disabilities, veterans with signifi cant barriers to employ- ment, or combat veterans. USERRA and veterans-prefer- ence programs provide protec- tion for the jobs of reservists who are called up to active duty, and allow veterans to gain preference in the hiring practices of federal agencies. Ortiz highlighted several
initiatives being piloted by DoL: • T e National Resource Directory and its Veterans Job Bank, which are Web- based resources aimed at linking veterans with services that support rehabilitation, reintegration and employ- ment;
• T e Gold Card initiative, which provides unemployed post-9/11 veterans with services they need to succeed in today’s job market;
• T e Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative grant program, which provides disabled servicemembers and their families access to employment-related transportation; and
• T e United Services Military Apprenticeship and Guard Apprenticeship programs, which provide active-duty servicemembers and Guardsmen an opportunity to improve their job skills and obtain certifi cation for a variety of jobs. Schmiegel discussed the
Hiring Our Heroes initiative being implemented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Hiring Our Heroes is an integrated program, utilizing the public and private sectors on national, state and local levels in order to successfully reduce veteran unemployment and provide veterans with meaningful employment. In the fi rst year, he said, the program has exceeded its goal of 100 job fairs in 45 states. In the second year, the goal is to increase that number to 400 and to increase existing programs to better serve veterans. Carbone expounded upon
several programs being imple- mented in Connecticut. T e Incarcerated Veterans Transi- tion Program provides incarcer- ated veterans at risk for home- lessness with options for stable housing, as well as employment services, beginning prior to release. And the Sector-Based Veterans Program off ers classroom and on-the-job training to recently separated veterans that provides creden- tials in the green and renew- able-energy sector.
Reevaluating the transition from servicemember to veteran T e House Veterans Aff airs
Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Aff airs conducted a hearing March 28 to discuss the ongoing problems faced by transitioning veterans. T e primary focus of the hearing was the implemen- tation by the departments of Defense and Veterans Aff airs of the new Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). While improvement has been
made, problems remain with the implementation of IDES, and it has yet to be fully implemented. It has failed to meet deadlines this year for full implementation despite being in active use at 139 VA and DoD locations. Accord- ing to testimony from Kenneth Fisher of the Fisher House Foundation, the pilot programs were able to drop the process time from 500 days on average to just under 300 days; however, that average has been creeping back up toward the 500-day fi gure since being rolled out into a fuller implementation. Further problems exist with
confusion between VA and DoD examiners performing compensation and pension exams, as well as with concerns that servicemembers navigating the evaluation process are not able to be adequately served by outside counsel (such as the Legion) to ensure they receive a fair shake at the process. Other members of Congress
vented frustration at DoD offi cials over the evaluation of mental-health conditions. Specifi cally, they raised widely publicized concerns noted at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington state, as well as at other locations, where servicemembers have been improperly diagnosed with personality disorders instead of post-traumatic stress. Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Minn., was particularly fi ery in his grilling, asking, “How can we have soldiers, serving for eight years through multiple deployments with honor, suddenly fi nd out they had a pre-existing ‘personality disorder’ that disqualifi es them from service? How can you explain to me that that soldier was good enough for all those deployments but isn’t good enough now that it’s not convenient?” T e tenor of the hearing
suggested that improvements had been made, but that there is still a long road to travel to ensure that our transitioning veterans are getting the justice and treatment they are entitled to through their dedicated service.
Legion provides virtual hub for job seekers
page gives veterans valuable employment tips.
Since World War I, T e American Legion
has been dedicated to ensuring that those who serve their country have employment opportunities waiting for them when they return home. Even in an age of electronic résumés, social-media-based networking and massive job-search engines, the Legion’s focus on employment hasn’t changed. Finding a post-military career oſt en
requires as much technical savvy as it does old-fashioned interviewing skills and marketability. T e Legion recognizes this and provides veterans and transitioning servicemembers with a valuable job resource – its Advice for Job Seekers page, which features advice from employment experts on résumé-writing, job-searching and managing your online identity in a way that attracts prospective employers.
Maintain advocacy by keeping updated with Legion legislative e-list
Legislative advocacy is one of T e American
Legion’s most powerful weapons in its fi ght to protect and enhance benefi ts for veterans and military families. If you’re a member of the Legion family,
you can add your voice to the Legion’s ongoing advocacy eff orts among members of Congress by signing up for the Legion’s Legislative Action E-List. Registration is simple and can be found online. Now is an especially important time to
become part of the Legion’s legislative action team, because Congress will soon consider the White House’s proposed budget for fi scal 2013. T e proposal includes TRICARE increases that would triple the fees for working-age retirees over the next few years, and establish a new enrollment fee for Medicare retirees. T e budget plan would also triple pharmacy co-pays over the next fi ve years. As proposed, the TRICARE changes would
phase in signifi cant fee hikes for nearly every segment of the military population: drilling
NATIONAL SECURITY Stop loss deadline extended T e deadline for eligible servicemembers,
veterans and their benefi ciaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to Oct. 21. RSLSP was established to compensate for
the hardships military members encountered when their service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss authority between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their benefi ciaries may submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefi t of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.
When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the
services estimated that 145,000 servicemembers, veterans and benefi ciaries were eligible for this benefi t. Because the majority of those eligible had already separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach eff orts, including multiple direct mailings, PSAs, and continuous engagements with military and veterans service organizations, social networks and media outlets. To apply for the pay, or for more information
on RSLSP, go online. www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0710_
National Guard and reserve members, those serving on active duty, and military retirees of all ages. T e ability to express to Congress your opposition to any TRICARE increases is easy and can be done online through the Legislative Alerts and Updates section of legion.org
. “T e power of T e American Legion family
is multiplied when our members can speak in a unifi ed voice,” says Tim Tetz, the Legion’s Legislative Division director. “All told, we have some 4 million members. T rough our Legisla- tive Action Center, they can engage Congress with one voice and one message. Getting on our Legislative Action E-List makes any voice in the Legion family more powerful. “And it is our voice being heard on Capitol
Hill that helps to pass bills we support, stop the bills we oppose, and infl uence Congress on the priorities it sets on issues that aff ect veterans and military families.” Help the Legion multiply its voice. Sign up
for the Legislative Action E-List today. capwiz.com/legion/home/
Renowned career expert Wendy Enelow
pens the bimonthly column, which appears in T e American Legion Magazine and on legion.org
. Check in each month. Another way to easily keep abreast of the
Legion’s eff orts in veterans employment is through the American Legion Career Center e-newsletter. Subscribers receive regular updates on the Legion’s involvement in career fairs and veterans hiring programs.
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8