More than 60,000 veterans hit the unemployment rolls in June, which puts the total number of unemployed veterans at more than 1 million, according to Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.
Miller, in a hearing Friday, pitched the 2011 Veteran Opportunity to Work Act backed with $3 billion budget as one solution to this problem. This bill emphasizes education and training, and includes language that mandates active duty personnel attend Transition Assistance Program classes that teach civilian job market skills such as resume writing.
Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif, the ranking member on the committee, sharply criticized the Miller bill, arguing: "This bill does very little to create jobs for veterans, regardless of how my Republican colleagues may portray it. This bill is about completely contracting out the Transition Assistance Program." Filner also blasted the Miller bill funding formula as a tax on vets who have Veterans Administration-backed mortgages, by using high loan fees to pay for the jobs bill.
Filner backed the House version of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee vets job bill, the 2011 Hiring Heroes Act, which would provide veterans with training to help them secure a job before they leave the service. This bill also would require the Defense Department to help troops match the skills they learned on active duty with civilian jobs.
Based on my post-Vietnam experience, both bills -- however well intentioned -- will do nothing to solve the veteran unemployment problem.
So, I have a modest suggestion -- craft a bill that requires defense firms to hire a vet for one year for every $10 million in business they do with the Pentagon.