The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a bipartisan measure spearheaded by U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Stephanie Murphy -- Republican and Democrat respectively, and both from Florida -- to help more disabled veterans transition to the civilian workforce.
According to Mast's prepared statement, the measure -- passed as an amendment to the fiscal 2019 Legislative Branch appropriations bill -- increases funding for the U.S. House’s Wounded Warrior Program. It provides two-year paid fellowships for disabled veterans to work in the Washington or district offices of members of Congress. There are currently 47 disabled veterans working in House offices through the Wounded Warrior initiative, and this new funding will help the program reach its ultimate goal of supporting 110 paid fellowships.
“After I opened our congressional office inside the West Palm Beach VA, we set out to hire a wounded warrior to help us because I know veterans are among the most qualified applicants for any position thanks to the skills they learned in the military,” Mast said. “This amendment is a win-win: giving disabled veterans a great opportunity to transition into a new career while improving constituent services in congressional offices across the country.”
The Mast-Murphy amendment increases funding for the Wounded Warrior Program by $250,000, from $2.75 million to $3 million. In addition to Mast and Murphy, U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee of Michigan and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii co-led the amendment.
“Our veterans, especially those wounded in the line of duty, have fought hard to protect our nation, and Congress should fight just as hard for them,” Murphy said. “The Wounded Warrior fellowship program helps veterans succeed after they leave the military by affording them potentially life-changing personal and professional opportunities to gain experience in congressional offices. Veterans can use the valuable skills they honed in the military to help constituents, including fellow veterans, in congressional districts across the country. I’m proud to work with Congressman Mast to create more opportunities for disabled veterans to get the skills, training, and expertise that will help them succeed.”
Shortly after opening the first-ever congressional office inside a VA facility, Mast announced his office was seeking a wounded warrior or medically retired veteran for a fellowship working at the office. The office is in the final phases of selecting a fellow to handle military and veterans-related casework from a qualified group of candidates.
Wounded Warrior fellowships enable disabled veterans to gain professional experience and develop their skills while they determine their long-term career interests and goals. To qualify for the program, an applicant must be an honorably discharged veteran released from active duty within the last five years. The applicant must have a 20 percent or greater service-connected disability or be a Purple Heart recipient.
Click here for more information on the Wounded Warrior program.