On March 21, U.S. Reps. Juan Ciscomani and Ro Khanna introduced bipartisan legislation to cover costs for veterans seeking job training in high-tech industries. Their VET-TEC Authorization Act permanently funds the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET-TEC) program, which is a five-year pilot program under the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
The legislation has the support of The American Legion, who reiterated that support during a March 30 hearing of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. During the hearing, Ciscomani told American Legion Employment & Education Policy Analyst Matthew Brennan that he appreciated the organization’s support for his bill, how Legionnaires have benefited from the VET-TEC program and what changes may need to be made to it.
“The VET-TEC program has been a huge success for our veterans transitioning out of the military into civilian life,” Brennan said. “Our members have benefited from it because right now, as of note, there is a dire need for employment in these sought-after sectors. We believe that making this program permanent and ensuring they go into these jobs that are well-paying is instrumental in ensuring their successful transition out of the service.”
The VET-TEC program, established in 2017, matches veterans and servicemembers within 180 days of transitioning out of the military with a leading training provider to help them develop high-tech skills. Through the program, participants are provided with tuition for a full-time high-tech training program and money for housing during their training.
When the VET-TEC Authorization Act was introduced, it received American Legion support. Via a press release, Executive Director of Government Affairs Chanin Nuntavong said, “The American Legion proudly supports the VET-TEC Authorization Act of 2023. VET-TEC has been a successful program connecting eligible student veterans with training and enabling a quick integration into the labor market. We thank Congressman Ciscomani for his leadership and commitment to make VET-TEC a permanent program for transitioning service members and veterans – and ensuring they have access to the benefits and education necessary to succeed.”
Brennan also provided a written statement to the subcommittee that included:
· Support for H.R. 291, the Vaccine Discharge Parity Act, which will amend Title 38, U.S. Code, to ensure that members of the armed forces granted a general discharge under honorable conditions on the sole basis of refusing to obey a lawful order to receive a vaccine for COVID-19 are eligible for certain educational assistance administered by the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs.
· Support for H.R. 645, the Healthy Foundations for Homeless Veterans Act, which amends Title 38, U.S. Code, to permanently authorize the use of certain funds to improve flexibility in the provision of assistance to homeless veterans, and for other purposes. “The American Legion urges Congress to prevent more veterans from going without the basic resources they need to transition out of homelessness successfully. The Healthy Foundations for Homeless Veterans Act addresses this issue by permanently authorizing the VA to redirect funds to improve flexibility in the provision of assistance to homeless veterans,” Brennan’s statement read.