Bennet, Johanns Sponsor Bill to Get Veterans Back to Work

Bipartisan Bill Increases Employment Opportunities for Returning Veterans

Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) introduced the Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act to increase the availability of on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs for returning veterans through the GI Bill.

Currently, veterans can use their GI Bill benefits to complete training and apprenticeship programs. Employers or unions pay veterans at a reduced rate during training while the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays the rest. The portion of the wage the employer pays increases as veterans’ skills improve until ultimately they attain job certification or journeyman status.

The Bennet-Johanns bill expands and strengthens this program by incentivizing private employers to hire veterans by increasing the portion of salary the VA pays when a veteran is training. It also increases opportunities for veterans by instructing the VA to use the program through new partnerships with other federal agencies.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirms this legislation is fully paid for, and estimates it will save an additional $14 million over the next five years.

“Our veterans have chosen to risk their lives to defend our freedoms. They chose to put their country first, and now it’s time that we put them first,” Bennet said. “Developing and expanding these on-the-job training programs is a meaningful way to ensure that when our veterans return they can find gainful employment and transition to civilian careers.”

“This is good news for veterans looking to enter the workforce without delay,” Johanns said. “Strengthening partnerships between the VA and civilian employers in a fiscally responsible manner will give our service members greater opportunities as they transition out of military life. It also benefits employers by bringing highly-skilled, highly-trained individuals to fill job openings – a winning recipe for all.”

Under current law an employer is required to pay a training veteran on an incremental scale up to 85 percent. This new legislation will reduce that maximum to 75 percent, with the VA covering the rest.

This bill is a companion to one Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Mark Takano (D-CA) introduced in the House of Representatives, which passed on a vote of 416-0 last month.

“This legislation will help our veterans by giving them the training necessary to make the transition from the military to a civilian occupation and as a Marine Corps combat veteran I can’t thank Senators Bennet and Johanns enough for bringing this up,” said Coffman.

“This legislation introduced by Senators Bennet and Johanns in the Senate and Representative Coffman and myself in the House is a definite step in the right direction. Our heroes have sacrificed so much in the name of freedom and it is Congress’ responsibility to ensure that they are taken care of when they return – that includes helping them make the transition back to civilian life,” said Takano.