April 20, 2021

Rubio, Hassan Reintroduce Legislation Prioritizing Veterans' Employment and Education Program at the VA

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) reintroduced the bipartisan Veterans’ Education, Transition, and Opportunity Prioritization Plan (VET OPP) Act (S. 1093) to prioritize veterans’ employment, transition, and education benefits at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

 

Last Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed companion legislation to Rubio and Hassan’s VET OPP Act. Rubio and Hassan first introduced the legislation in April 2018.

 

Currently, the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) is responsible for all VA benefits provided to veterans outside of health care and cemetery services. While VBA is tasked with implementing many different programs related to veterans education and employment, the majority of staff and resources are dedicated to the administration of disability compensation and pension claims. This has resulted in a lack of attention on the administration of other critical VBA benefits, such as the Forever GI Bill, Veteran Readiness and Employment Services, Home Loan benefits, and VA’s portion of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).

 

The VET OPP Act would address this issue by moving VA transition, education, and employment programs under a new, separate administration – the Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration. This fourth VA administration would be led by a new undersecretary and created using existing resources to avoid additional bureaucracy.

 

“Our service men and women did not hesitate to answer the call to protect our great nation, and they deserve a VA system that is fully equipped to help them lead economically prosperous lives post-service,” Rubio said. “The VET OPP Act would help to modernize the outdated structure of the VA, making transition programs more accessible to our veterans. I urge my Senate colleagues to swiftly pass this legislation.” 

 

“Veterans have a wealth of experience that can be invaluable to helping businesses, communities, and our economy thrive,” Hassan said. “But veterans don’t always have the support that they need to find jobs and successfully transition into civilian life. This legislation would strengthen efforts to connect veterans to employment and education opportunities, and I look forward to working on a bipartisan basis to build support for this bill and pass it into law.” 

 

“The men and women I served with in Iraq were incredibly skilled and experienced. Some of them, however, struggled to fully utilize their talents when transitioning back to civilian life,” Wenstrup said. “We’ve made great strides in improving veteran care by cutting through red tape with strong, bipartisan laws, like the VA MISSION Act. Now, we must continue addressing our veterans’ needs by aligning transition, education, and employment programs in a Fourth Administration within the VA to help streamline organization and better serve those who served us in uniform. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan, bicameral effort, and thank Rep. Levin and Senators Rubio and Hassan for joining me in introducing this important legislation.”

 

“We have a responsibility to provide America’s servicemembers with high quality services to ease their transition back to civilian life, but many veterans aren’t receiving the services they deserve due to red tape at the VA,” Levin said. “Education, job training, and transition assistance programs are critical to veterans’ economic success, and this bipartisan bill will allow us to deliver those resources more effectively by creating a new Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration at the VA and bringing more oversight to economic programs for veterans. As Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, I’ll continue to advance measures ensuring that military families like those around Camp Pendleton have the economic support they need.”

 

“Many economic opportunity programs fall under VBA to administer veterans benefits. VBA currently houses Compensation and Pension, along with GI Bill, VR&E, Home Loan, and other important benefits,” Pat Murray, Director VFW’s National Legislative Service, said. “The VFW believes VBA’s organizational structure needs updating. The VFW supports creating a fourth administration under VA with its own undersecretary whose sole responsibility is the economic opportunity programs. We would like to thank Congressmen Wenstrup and Levin for making this a priority.” 

 

"Student Veterans of America strongly supports the VET OPP Act, which creates the Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration," Lauren Augustine, Student Veterans of America's (SVA) Vice President of Government Affairs, said. "The intent of programs such as the GI Bill, VA home loan guarantee, and transition assistance programs are truly unique and separate from the larger disability compensation operations managed by the Veterans Benefits Administration. Separating the appointed management of these programs honors that difference, creates greater accountability, attention, and leadership over some of the most successful and empowering programs and benefits currently administered by VA."

 

Organizations in Support: 

  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • Student Veterans of America
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

 

Related: 

 

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