WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) – ranking member and chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – reintroduced S. 134, their bipartisan Veterans Economic Recovery Act to address the rise in veteran unemployment during the COVID-19 crisis.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the veteran unemployment rate across the country has risen exponentially—from 3.1 percent in 2019 to 11.7 percent in 2020. To help curb the alarming increase in unemployment, the Senators’ bipartisan bill would create a rapid retraining program to provide unemployed veterans and reservists with 12 months of educational benefits to pursue training in high-demand occupations.
“We have made great strides to lower the veteran unemployment rate during my time on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and in 2019 we saw the lowest rate in nearly 20 years,” said Ranking Member Moran. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a setback in veterans' employment. The unemployment rate for veterans spiked into the double digits in the early surge of the pandemic, and the veteran unemployment rates continue to be higher than the historic lows we saw in 2019, prior to COVID-19. This is why Sen. Tester and I are introducing the Veterans Economic Recovery Act to provide retraining opportunities to help our veterans and their spouses find meaningful jobs so they can provide for themselves and their families. These men and women, who have raised their right hand to serve this country, deserve no less during this crisis that we are facing.”
“With unemployment on the rise, we’ve got to work twice as hard to make certain our veterans aren’t left behind during this pandemic,” said Chairman Tester. “One way to do just that is by implementing swift measures that’ll expand assistance to veterans and families struggling to find quality jobs to make ends meet. Our bipartisan Veterans Economic Recovery Act will strengthen existing retraining job opportunities and establish new resources to get veterans employed and quickly back on their feet.”
Education benefits made available through the rapid retraining program under the Veterans Economic Recovery Act would be equivalent to benefits provided to veterans under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. To participate in the rapid retraining program, eligible veterans must comply with the following requirements:
- Be between the ages of 25-66;
- Be unemployed as a result of COVID-19;
- Have an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge;
- Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit;
- Not be enrolled in another Federal of State job training program;
- Not be receiving disability compensation for reasons that have led to un-employability; and
- Not be in receipt of any unemployment benefit when they begin training under this program.
Under this legislation, members of the National Guard or Reserve federally ordered to assist states with the COVID-19 response would also be eligible for the rapid retraining program.
A copy of the bill can be found HERE.