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Hochul welcomes joint defense, veterans affairs committee to spotlight challenges facing returning vets

by jmaloni
Thu, Jul 26th 2012 09:00 am

During a joint hearing before the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committee Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul, NY-26, joined Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to discuss efforts to help service members transition to civilian life.

"I was pleased to have the opportunity today to hear from secretaries Panetta and Shinseki about the importance of supporting our troops during their transition to civilian life," Hochul said. "After talking to service members during my trip to Afghanistan and many conversations with local veterans, I remain concerned that one of the biggest challenges facing our service members is dealing with the prospect of unemployment after their tour of duty. We must support those who have put their lives on the line protecting our freedoms. I will continue to work to ensure our troops have the resources they need when transitioning back into civilian life."

After returning from Afghanistan and meeting with local veterans, Hochul introduced the Vocational Employment and Technical Skills Act, or VETS Act, which would make it easier for veterans to receive professional certification in skills they performed while members of the armed services. In June, Hochul held a roundtable discussion on the VETS Act to receive input on the legislation from members of Western New York's veteran community. Additionally, the bill has been reviewed and approved by Hochul's veterans advisory board.

Hochul is also a co-sponsor of other legislation to encourage the hiring of veterans, including the Hiring Heroes Act, which modernizes and improves programs to assist U.S. veterans with the transition from service member to civilian life.

Earlier this month, Hochul supported the passage of two bills that will help veterans transition back into civilian life: The Veteran Skills to Jobs Act, which is similar to her own VETS Act, and the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2012, which allows for increases to the rates of veterans' disability compensation, dependent compensation, and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.

She voted in support of the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 - a bill that received bipartisan support - that provides assistance to older, unemployed veterans and provides active duty service members with transition and employment assistance.

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