Scores of veterans attend job fair in Illinois

More than 100 veteran job seekers attended a Hiring Our Heroes job fair recently at the Orland Park Civic Center in Orland Park, Ill.

At the job fair, which included 43 employers and 121 job seekers, more than 550 resumes were accepted, 120 interviews conducted, 30 tentative job offers made and six attendees were hired on the spot. This event was sponsored and hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The American Legion Department of Illinois, Department of Labor, Department of Veterans Affairs, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves and the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce.

Legionnaires, including assistant adjutant Gary Jenson of the Department of Illinois, helped make this event successful. The Department of Illinois received four new membership applications stemming from the job fair.

Meanwhile, planning continues on job fairs in Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Veterans looking for job fairs near their home can access the Legion’s career fair database anytime.

In other news:

VA claims backlog: On, June 14, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014, by a 315-108 vote. The bill contains an amendment which was originally contained in H.R. 1729, the VA Claims, Operations, and Records Efficiency (CORE) Act. The language of the amendment is intended to address the outrageous VA claims backlog.

Sponsored by Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona and Mike Coffman of Colorado, and supported by The American Legion, the VA CORE amendment would direct the secretary of defense (DoD) to make the service treatment records, personal records, unit records, and medical records (service records) of each member of the Armed Forces available to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in an electronic format. It would also provide post-discharge or release timelines for such availability. It would further require each service record provided to include a DoD certification of the record’s completeness.

Flag amendment: On May 22, House Joint Resolution (H.J. Res.) 47 was introduced by Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama. This legislation is a proposed constitutional amendment to protect the American flag from physical desecration. Its text states simply: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." The measure now has 11 co-sponsors. The legislation is supported by resolution.

On June 13, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced Senate Joint Resolution (S.J. Res.) 17, a companion measure. This measure has 21 co-sponsors.

Legionnaires are encouraged to contact their representative and senators, and ask them to become co-sponsors of the flag amendment in their respective chambers.

VSOBs: The Economic Division is working with Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick’s office to work on a bill that would increase opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and hold the states accountable for creating set-aside contracts to VOSBs. This proposed legislation would make VOSBs eligible for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Our veteran small business owners have been wrongfully excluded from the DBE programs for too long. This legislation addresses the problem by leveling the playing field for America’s veteran small business owners. Veterans are not presumed to be socially or economically disadvantaged for purposes of DBE programs; instead, the proposed legislation would make VOSBs independently eligible by establishing VOSBs as a separate entity who count for the purposes of the 10 percent goal as set by DOT.

GI Bill: The Economic Division met on June 18 with Amy Jones, senior policy adviser, House Committee on Education and the Workforce, G.I. Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013. to discuss veteran in-state tuition, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and H.R. 357. This meeting served two purposes: (1) to ensure that Chairman John Kline of Minnesota would vote in favor of this pending legislation when introduced in front of the full House for a vote; and (2) to begin conversation on possible introduction of amendments to the Higher Education Act in the next few weeks.

Nuclear arms: President Barack Obama last week announced his intention to seek deeper cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, provided Russia is willing to negotiate similar reductions. In an address before several thousand people at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Obama said a comprehensive review has determined America can ensure its own safety and that of its allies by reducing the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal by up to one-third.

"I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures," he said, and repeated the goal he articulated in 2009 of "pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons, no matter how distant that dream may be."

A related resolution on protecting the defense budget.

Women in combat: Opening more jobs in the military to women -- in particular lifting the combat exclusion -- is the right thing to do, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week as he brushed aside any notion that the armed forces would have to lower standards to do so.

Hagel’s comments came during a visit with troops at U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in response to a question about whether the policy change could affect mission success. Earlier in the week, senior defense and military officials unveiled the services’ respective plans for lifting the combat exclusion for women.

"I think everyone understands it’s the right thing," he said. "It’s not a matter of lowering standards to assist women to get into combat positions." Hagel added that part of the process will be finding "the right balance of implementation."

Related resolution on military occupational specialty standards.

Claims: During the week ending June 14, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals reached dispositions on 126 American Legion represented appeals. Of those dispositions, 71.4 percent of the denials were overturned with outcomes favorable to the veteran. In 36 cases, the board granted benefits outright after considering The American Legion’s arguments. In 54 cases, The American Legion was able to point out errors in the development of the veteran’s claims which mandated corrective action under the law. Of the total number of dispositions, 30 (23.8 percent) were outright denials.

POW/MIA Update: Army Air Force Sgt. Charles R. Marshall, aircrew member of a B-24H Liberator aircraft was lost on July 21, 1944, in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. His remains were recovered in 2012 and were accounted for on June 3, 2013.