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September/October Issue

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By Rep. Steve Buyer, Chair,
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee

The July-August issue of The VVA Veteran included a critical performance review of the Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS). I agree that, as currently organized, the system is inconsistent in putting veterans—especially disabled veterans—in good jobs.

To begin the process of evolving veterans’ employment services into a high-performing program, the House passed H.R. 3082, which would make several basic changes to how VETS funds and measures the performance of state employment services. The bill would improve hiring and training processes for Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Programs (DVOPS) and Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVERs), set several requirements that states must meet as conditions of receiving the DVOP/LVER grant from VETS, establish pilot programs for licensing and certification, establish a measure of competition for employment services, and add a representative of the National Governors Association to the VETS Advisory Committee.

Based on observing the performance of VETS during my 14 years in Congress, I believe the basic design of the program is flawed. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs constantly hears from senior-level corporate hiring officials who are eager to hire veterans but don’t know where to find them. Our first reply is to ask them if they know their local LVERs or their state’s Director of Veterans Employment and Training. Too often they are unfamiliar with these agencies. That indicates inadequate outreach to employers.

Some have suggested that VETS be moved to VA to get greater visibility over the programs. The House and Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committees certainly have greater influence over VA than DoL, but it can also be said that Labor is in the business of finding people work, and the programs should stay there. These are pros and cons that must be weighed. If such a thing were to happen, funding must be shifted from DoL to VA to cover program costs.

I am committed to improving VETS operations, and look forward to working with VVA and the rest of the veterans’ community to make that happen.

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