WASHINGTON, D.C. —With the unemployment rate for veterans aged 20 to 24 at a staggering 27 percent, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited Cleveland State University today to outline a new bill that is the first of its kind to ensure broad job skills training for all service members returning home and helps ensure that more jobs are available for veterans as they transition to civilian life.
“Our investment in our service members shouldn’t end when they return home as skilled, experienced civilians. Today, the unemployment rate for young veterans is 27 percent—which is simply unacceptable. That means more than one in four of these young veterans can’t find a job to support their family or to ease the transition to civilian life,” Brown said. “Our veterans’ service to our country does not stop when they leave the military. From leadership experience to technical and scientific skills, veterans are key to our nation’s economic competitiveness.
“We must honor our commitment to them and empower them to lead our nation in civilian life—as they did while in uniform. Veterans deserve job skills training and to be connected with stable, good-paying jobs,” Brown continued. “These men and women put their lives on the line for their country. The least we can do is ensure that their transition to a productive civilian life is a smooth and successful one.”
Brown was joined by CSU President Ronald Berkman, as well as Clarence Rowe, a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps who graduated from CSU last month, both of whom discussed the need to improve and strengthen career pathways for returning service members. CSU, which has a Veterans Student Success program, is one of just eight universities nationwide—and the only campus in Ohio—with a VA counselor on-campus. Inspired by CSU’s program, Brown wrote and passed the Supporting Education for Returning Veterans (SERV) Act. The SERV Act helps establish veteran support programs at institutions of higher learning.
The bill—known as the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011—is supported by Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. It aims to reduce unemployment among veterans transitioning to civilian life by ensuring that each separating service member attends a transition assistance program. The bill will also create new direct federal hiring authority so that more service members have jobs waiting for them the day they leave the military, and will improve veteran mentorship programs in the working world.
Brown, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, is the author of several legislative initiatives that would strengthen our nation's commitment to veterans by improving education reimbursements, enhance access to VA health care, and expand employment protection for former service members. Brown has also worked to reduce VA benefits disparities for Ohio veterans and cut down on the VA claims backlog.
In May, Brown presented overdue or replacement military medals to nearly 30 northeast Ohio veterans or their family members in a ceremony at the Summit County Veterans Service Commission in Akron.