Tester’s veterans’ jobs bill passes Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support

Senator’s plan is ‘most significant piece of veterans’ jobs legislation in years’

(U.S. SENATE) – With unanimous support, the Senate today passed Senator Jon Tester’s bill to put more veterans back to work.

Tester’s VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which will connect veterans with good-paying jobs, passed the Senate 95-0. Tester called his bill, which combined several popular proposals from both sides of the aisle, “the most significant piece of veterans’ jobs legislation since I’ve been in the Senate.”

“This package has good ideas from both Republicans and Democrats,” Tester said. “Its passage is a victory that belongs to the many Montanans who came to me with concerns over this nation’s unacceptably high veterans’ unemployment rate.”

A major component of the bill is a proposal Tester introduced earlier this year to make the transition to post-military work as seamless as possible. For years, veterans have faced difficulty counting their military experience toward professional skills certifications.

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act ensures that military experience counts for veterans who wish to become civilian truck drivers, paramedics or health providers, mechanics or engineers.

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act also:
• Provides tax incentives for companies that hire veterans – particularly those who have been unemployed for long periods of time,
• Makes the Transition Assistance Program mandatory for most service members transitioning to civilian status,
• Expands educational and training opportunities for older veterans

Tester added that his VOW to Hire Heroes Act will not increase national deficit, and that it’s completely paid for without raising taxes.

On a conference call Wednesday with veterans’ service organizations to discuss Tester’s bill, Tom Tarantino of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said that the bipartisan nature of Tester’s bill makes a huge difference.

“Seeing leaders like Senator Tester work so closely together on something that is very personal to them should be commended,” Tarantino said. “We have to give veterans the opportunities to build on the skills they learned in the military. This bill is going to do that.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is over 12 percent. In Montana, that figure rises to over 20 percent.

“Simply put, we have a responsibility to provide for all veterans and their families,” Tester said in a speech on the floor of the Senate. “It is something I have never taken lightly, and it is something that continues to motivate me every single day.”

Tester is Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Text of his VOW to Hire Heroes Act is available online HERE.