Lawmakers seek extension of vets’ unemployment benefits

Sam Giovinazzi, with the California Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, assists Lance Cpl. Nikko Falcon with a job search during a Hiring Our Heroes Veterans Event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at Camp Pendleton, Calif., on Sept. 20, 2012.


By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 7, 2014

A bill that would continue training assistance for unemployed veterans has been introduced in the House.

The Help Hire Our Heroes Act was announced Wednesday by California Democrats Rep. Julia Brownley and Rep. Mark Takano, according to a statement from Brownley’s office. The bill aims to extend the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program through Sept. 30.

The bill now goes to the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Funding to pay for it will come from cutting $270 million from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, said Brett Morrow, a spokesman for Rep. Takano.

The program, which began in 2012, provided up to 12 months of training benefits at community colleges and technical schools in high demand occupations for unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 who are no longer eligible for the GI Bill.

Due to funding limitations, the VA stopped accepting new VRAP applications Oct. 1, and is scheduled to stop paying benefits April 1.

“Far too many veterans in Ventura County and across the country are unemployed, and we owe it to them to help them re-train for new high-skilled jobs and careers,” Brownley said in the statement. “The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program has succeeded in helping many veterans re-train and find employment, and it should not be allowed to lapse.”