Not surprisingly, joblessness among veterans, especially Guard and Reserve members, was the hot topic at a Nov. 16 roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Senate Democrats. Members of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee joined with invited guests, including Legion Deputy Legislative Director Ian de Planque, to discuss this and other concerns of veterans advocates.
The first issue to be aired at the Capitol Hill session, however, was the fate of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, as crafted jointly by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and her House counterpart, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. The Senate passed the measure on Nov. 10 while the House passed it a few hours after the Senators' roundtable. Sen. Murray and VOW Act co-sponsor, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., were both effusive in their praise of Congressional colleagues as well as veterans and military support organizations for the success of the legislation. They noted especially the bi-partisan cooperation demonstrated in support of the bill.
The other main issue of concern to roundtable participants was the work of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the supercommittee. As their Nov. 23 deadline for decision making approaches, fears of deadlock and consequent cuts to military and, perhaps, veterans budgets grow. This had been a topic of discussion by members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee the previous day, as prompted by Mr. de Planque.