WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) cosponsored bipartisan legislation to help address the high rate of unemployment among veterans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bipartisan Veterans Economic Recovery Act of 2020 was introduced by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jon Tester (D-MT).
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the veteran unemployment rate across the country has risen—from 3.1 percent in 2019 to 6.4 percent in August 2020. To help curb this increase in unemployment, the bipartisan Veterans Economic Recovery Act 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. It would also expand the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses for Training Providers (VET TEC) program to help veterans and service members better transition to civilian life.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on our country’s veterans, including thousands of veterans who are now unemployed as our economy struggles amid this public health crisis,” Senator Hassan said. “This bipartisan legislation would help retrain veterans for in-demand jobs, as well as provide them with critical financial support, including tuition and housing stipends, to assist in their education. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important measure to help veterans re-enter the workforce and contribute to our economic recovery.”
Education benefits made available through the rapid retraining program under the Veterans Economic Recovery Act of 2020 would be equivalent to benefits provided to veterans under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
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.
Senator Hassan is working to support veterans amid this unprecedented public health crisis, and joined in introducing bipartisan legislation to give the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) greater flexibility in caring for and meeting the needs of homeless veterans in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Hassan also urged the VA to strengthen New Hampshire veterans’ access to telehealth. The CARES Act that Senator Hassan worked to pass into law included $2.15 billion in funding to the VA to enhance its ability to provide telehealth services to veterans. The Senator also recently led the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation in reiterating their concerns over a change in policy at the VA that limits veterans’ ability to access non-drug related therapies, such as muscle massage services and acupuncture, which can help veterans experiencing chronic pain.