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Marco Rubio Champions VA Education, Transition Reform

April 30, 2018 - 6:00am
Marco Rubio and Maggie Hassan
Marco Rubio and Maggie Hassan

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is championing an effort to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, saying his proposal will help veterans transition into the civilian workforce. 

On Thursday, Rubio teamed up with U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif. , to unveil the “Veterans’ Education, Transition, and Opportunity Prioritization Plan (VET OPP) Act.”

The  proposal would add a fourth administration to the VA.  The proposed Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration, led by a new Under Secretary of Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition, would join the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration. Under the proposal,  vocational rehabilitation and employment programs, educational assistance programs, veterans’ housing loans, verification of small businesses under the Vets First Program and the VA portion of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), most of which are under the VBA, would be sent to the new administration. 

The four legislators made their cases for the new proposal last week. 

“For far too long, the outdated structure of the VA has allowed economic opportunity and transition programs for our veterans to fall to the wayside,” Rubio said. “By creating a Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Assistance Administration, this legislation would provide more direct oversight and accountability over existing programs aimed at helping our veterans lead economically prosperous lives post-service. Our veterans did not hesitate to answer the call to protect our great nation and we must do everything we can to ensure the VA is adapting to the 21st century needs of our veterans.”

“We must do more to ensure that our brave veterans in New Hampshire and across America have the support and resources they need to smoothly transition into our civilian workforce,” said Hassan. “By establishing a new Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration at the VA, this bipartisan bill will help prioritize the education, housing, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and military-to-civilian transition services that are critical to helping our veterans succeed in the 21st century innovation economy. I will continue working across the aisle to ensure that all of our service members and veterans have the support that they deserve.”

“It’s critical that our servicemembers have access to resources that assist them with finding jobs or educational opportunities as they make the transition to civilian life,” Wenstrup said. “By placing educational, employment, training, and transition programs together in a fourth administration within the VA, we will bring more transparency and oversight to these programs, while also placing greater priority on opportunity-based programs within the VA. This is consistent with our effort to invest in our troops from the day they take their oath of service to when they begin their civilian careers.”

“Job training, educational opportunities, transition assistance programs, and other basic forms of support are often as important to a veteran’s quality of life than other veterans’ services that receive far more attention and oversight,” said Takano. “This legislation reflects the importance of providing returning service members with a clear path to a rewarding and successful civilian life. The most meaningful way to honor our veterans’ service and sacrifice is by ensuring they have the tools and support they need to live with dignity in the country they fought to protect.”

The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, made the case for the additional administration, in an article published last month. Other supporters of the proposal include the American Legion AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and the Vietnam Veterans of America


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