Fitzpatrick seeks workforce policy improvements for military veterans in next relief package
The needs of the nation’s military veterans, transitioning service members, and their families must be included in the next federal COVID-19 emergency legislative relief package, said U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and several colleagues.
“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,” wrote Rep. Fitzpatrick and a bipartisan contingent of lawmakers in a June 19 letter sent to congressional leaders.
The unemployment rates for U.S. military veterans are rising due to COVID-19, Rep. Fitzpatrick and his colleagues wrote, noting that veterans who transitioned to civilian life during the Great Recession similarly faced higher unemployment rates compared to older veterans and non-veterans, according to 2007-2009 federal studies.
“These studies also indicate increased veterans’ suicide rates during the Great Recession, tied in part to less economic opportunity,” according to their letter. “Accordingly, we are concerned that the adverse economic conditions stemming from COVID-19 could cause similar harm to the veterans’ community today.”
Rep. Fitzpatrick and his colleagues called for more targeted workforce policy improvements across several federal agencies to ensure long-term economic stability for the veterans’ community.
The congressmen seek GI Bill benefits coverage for veterans who are nontraditional students in Registered Apprenticeship and On-the-Job Training programs; funding for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Program for veterans; and increased access for veterans and transitioning service members to additional skilled training programs, among other measures.
“We urge you to take the steps outlined in this letter in the next COVID-19 response package to support our veterans, transitioning service members, and their families as they navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote.
Among the members who joined Rep. Fitzpatrick in signing the letter were U.S. Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Conor Lamb (D-PA).