U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Conor Lamb led a coalition of members in a letter to Senate and House leadership advocating for the needs of the nation’s veterans, transitioning service members and their families in the next COVID-19 legislative response package.
“The transition for our service members back to civilian life can be difficult no matter the circumstances. However, particularly during the current coronavirus pandemic, we believe Congress must do everything in our power to support our veterans and transitioning service members, especially by addressing their workforce development, employment and economic needs,” the lawmakers wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
“Veterans’ unemployment rates are rising due to COVID-19. During the Great Recession from 2007-2009, studies show that veterans who recently transitioned to civilian life faced higher unemployment rates than both older veterans and non-veterans. These studies also indicate increased veterans’ suicide rates during the Great Recession, tied in part to less economic opportunity. Accordingly, we are concerned that the adverse economic conditions stemming from COVID-19 could cause similar harm to the veterans’ community today. Therefore, we believe that additional targeted veterans and transitioning service members’ workforce policy improvements are needed across several federal agencies to COVID-19 and to ensure economic stability for the veterans’ community in the long-term.”
The letter outlined the following measures of support to assist veterans and their families navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic: GI Bill benefits coverage for veterans who are nontraditional students in registered apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs; funding for the Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) for veterans; increasing access for veterans and transitioning service members to additional skilled training programs; and recognizing veterans’ service-connected skills through enhancements to the existing credentialing system.