On of the big initiatives of 2011 from the Obama Administration was Joining Forces, an effort to retrain, reeducate, and re-employ America’s veterans. It lead to the Vow to Hire Heroes Act in November of that year, which offers employers subsidies when they hired returning veterans.
There are quibbles—the military’s own tendency to “dishonorably discharge” people wounded in battle has been recorded elsewhere. But between Vow to Hire Heroes in November of 2011 and the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act in July of this year, you might think Veteran Unemployment has been addressed.
Certainly, the Republicans in the Senate do. The effort to address not one but two problems—the need to repair infrastructure and the need to employ veterans (who have spent the past eleven years rebuilding infrastructure and managing logistics)—would seem ideal. Apparently not:
Senate Republicans blocked legislation Wednesday that would have established a $1 billion jobs program putting veterans back to work tending to the country’s federal lands and bolstering local police and fire departments.
Republicans said the spending authorized in the bill violated limits that Congress agreed to last year. Democrats fell two votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed to waive the objection, forcing the legislation back to committee….
“(With) a need so great as unemployed veterans, this is not the time to draw a technical line on the budget,” said Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, the bill’s lead sponsor, who faces a competitive re-election battle.
Republicans said the effort to help veterans was noble, but the bill was flawed nevertheless.
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said the federal government already has six job-training programs for veterans and there is no way to know how well they are working. He argued that making progress on the country’s debt was the best way to help veterans in the long-term.
To believe Senator Coburn, you would have to believe veteran re-employment is going well. But that pesky data thing interferes.
Note that this is all Veterans 18 and over, not just recent returnees. Since employed veterans tend to remain employed—or, as Tim Kane notes, become entrepreneurs—overall veteran employment is relatively stable. Large fluctuations, therefore, are more likely to be related to the ability of returning troops to assimilate into the marketplace.
Female Veteran Unemployment (dashed line above) has gone from 7.0% in November of last year to 13.2% in September. While male veteran employment has responded to the initiatives and bills (declining in line with the national rates), female soldiers returning to the States and the workforce have received rather another reaction.
The Obama Administration doesn’t hate the troops. Why do Senate Republicans?