Tester: Employment assistance for rural veterans should be based on geography, not population

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today introduced a bill to increase access to employment opportunities for rural veterans.

Tester's bill would allow more veterans' job counselors in rural states to be hired to help veterans find work.

The Department of Labor's veterans' job counselors are currently assigned based solely on a state's population without any consideration of the size of the state.  Montana, the fourth-largest state in the nation, has only six job counselors who each cover 22,600 square miles.

Tester's bill would allow the Department of Labor to hire more veterans' employment experts for rural states – one employment expert for every 5,000 square miles.  Under Tester's bill, Montana veterans would be able to access 23 full-time veterans' job counselors.


"This is another good example of how a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't cut it for Montana," Tester said.  "The needs of veterans in rural Montana are far different from the needs of a veteran in an urban area. My bill is a step towards making sure that Montana's veterans have equal access to the resources available as they look for work after their military service."

Tester is also championing the Hiring Heroes Act to combat high unemployment among veterans through job skills training, certification and improved federal hiring practices. That bill passed the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on Wednesday.   

Tester is Montana's only member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.