Jim Walz, running for 14th Congressional District
Veteran’s Promise Initiative
The scourge of veteran unemployment is too severe to ignore, and is one of our greatest shames as a nation. In 2015, there were 495,000 unemployed veterans throughout the country.
It is unacceptable that we allow veterans to live without the dignity of work they want and deserve, and betrays the sacrifices they make to defend our freedom.
“It is unacceptable that we allow veterans to live without the dignity of work they want and deserve”
This is why we must establish a program geared towards rebuilding our infrastructure that will guarantee our active duty veterans the dignity of work.
There are a few key points to remember about the Veteran’s Promise Program:
What Will It Do?
This program will guarantee any active duty veteran who has been honorably discharged from duty the right to an employment opportunity in the Veteran’s Promise program. The program will be based in a group of counties and cities where the concentration of unemployed active duty veterans is highest as a proportion of the population.
How Much Will It Cost?
The cost of employing all unemployed veterans would be less than $26 billion, while offering all employees in the program a living wage and public sector benefits. This amounts to less than 4.5% of the Department of Defense (DoD) annual budget in 2016, and 0.6% of the total federal budget.
“It will provide unemployed veterans with an opportunity to share their skills with the nation and rebuild our broken economy”
For comparison, annual spending in 2016 on DoD procurement alone amounted to $119 billion – over 20% of the DoD budget, or 3% of the total federal budget.
Can We Afford This?
Yes – along with procurement reform, the program’s costs will be offset by savings on healthcare, which tends to be costlier at higher rates of unemployment. Veterans have unique medical needs, and not being able to return to a well-paid and meaningful job multiplies the mental and physical health problems they face when returning to civilian life.
Who Will Implement This Program?
The program will be implemented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, through an appropriation that flexibly expands their authority to hire unemployed active-duty veterans, and authorizes work on critical public safety, infrastructure, and environmental improvement projects.
This program will put an end to the deplorable economic reality that our men and women in uniform endure today. It will provide unemployed veterans with an opportunity to share their skills with the nation and rebuild our broken economy. Not only does this make financial sense, but it’s the right thing to do.
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