Sen. Murray: hiring veteran heroes necessary, smart

Friday - 7/8/2011, 9:05am EDT

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash)

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By Vyomika Jairam
Federal News Radio

The nation spends billions of dollars training soldiers, airmen, seamen and marines. And yet the unemployment rate for those mustering out of military services is in the double digits. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) wants to change that. She's sponsored a bill that cleared the Senate Armed Services Committee.

She told the Federal Drive why the bill is needed and what's in it.

"The problem that we have today is that as a nation we spend literally billions of dollars training young men and women in our military, and then when they separate, go home and come back to the civilian world, we pretend like it never happened," Murray said. "We've lost their skills, we've lost their investment. And the result is a 27 percent unemployment rate for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans."

Murray said the bill will help in re-thinking how veterans are treated when they return. Among the bill's provisions is job training before members leave service, a fast-track for federal employment, and changing training and certification qualifications by transferring skills learned on the battlefield.

"If you've been in the military for four or eight years, you may be a medic, you may be a technician, you may be a team leader, you may be a truck driver. But you come home, and all of a sudden those skills are deemed worthless," Murray said. "We have to re-think the way we have invested the training in of all those skills."

Murray says there's many reasons why the unemployment rate among veterans is so high. For the most part, Murray said that civilian organizations don't value the skills veterans learned in serving in the armed forces. Also, returning service members may be forced to repeat training or certifications for technical skills already learned while serving.

In addition, Murray pointed out the double cost to the nation in paying unemployment to veterans who are skilled and were trained by the government.

"I was in college during the Vietnam War. I saw what happened to our Vietnam veterans when they came home and were really dismissed by our country. We cannot do that again," Murray said.