Senator Burr Calls for Common-Sense Solutions to Help Address Veterans Unemployment

At a hearing on Capitol Hill today, Burr cites GAO report on overlap and lack of effectiveness among programs

U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, today attended a hearing focused on unemployment among veterans and cited the duplicative and often ineffective efforts of the federal government to assist them in finding jobs.

"Despite the good will and hard work that many people are putting into helping veterans find employment, it is becoming increasingly apparent that many of the programs already in place are not working. We need to figure out which programs are working well, which are not, and how reducing overlap among agencies can make these services more effective and efficient. These common-sense steps could save taxpayers' money and make long-term improvements in services for our nation's veterans.

"We must also take immediate steps to bring down the staggering unemployment rate with simple solutions such as providing tax incentives to employers who hire veterans and making sure the skills and qualifications veterans develop during service are easily translatable into the civilian world," Senator Burr said.

Senator Burr was an original co-sponsor of the Veterans Employment Transition Act of 2011, which was introduced in January 2011. This bill would provide tax incentives to employers who hire veterans who have recently separated from the military.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) explained that, in fiscal year 2009, the federal government spent about $18 billion on 47 separate employment and training programs run by nine different agencies. All but three of those programs overlapped with at least one other program. Five programs that specifically targeted veterans provided seven similar types of services. As the GAO noted in its report, this overlap among programs could interfere with individuals seeking services and frustrate employers.

Additionally, most of these programs - including those serving veterans - had not completed studies to see whether positive employment outcomes result from their services, rather than from other factors. Three programs, including the Transition Assistance Program that service men and women may complete when transitioning out of the military, did not track any outcome measures.

The unemployment rate for young veterans reached over 27% in February 2011. Currently, nine percent of the entire veteran population is unemployed.

To read the testimony from the hearing "Veterans' Employment: Improving the Transition from the Battlefield to the Workforce" or to view a list of the witnesses, please click here.