Military and Veterans
Our men and women in uniform promise, each and every day, to protect our nation whatever the cost. They deserve our support from their first day of service on through the rest of their lives. While serving on active duty, our troops must have access to the best training, equipment, healthcare, and education. In this era of tough fiscal choices, Congress needs to work with the Department of Defense to identify and eliminate wasteful military spending without compromising the quality of training and services available to military personnel.
On the other side of active duty, the federal government has an obligation to honor our veterans’ service by helping them reintegrate into the civilian economy, with access to all of the job training, benefits, and support they have earned. Backlogs and bureaucratic delays at the Veterans Administration undermine this commitment. No veteran should call the VA only to be told there is a 60-day wait to book an appointment or file a claim – or that it will take over two years for them to see benefits.
There are over 40,000 veterans living in the 4th District of Massachusetts, and they are twice as likely as other workers to be unemployed. Efforts by the VA, the Department of Labor, and community organizations provide job training and certification to veterans. However, we lack a coordinated system that integrates training providers, funding, employer contacts, and caseworkers to make these services available to all veterans who need them.
Employers often do not “connect the dots” between the skills acquired during military service and the skills needed for private sector employment. Many veterans return to the civilian job market with skilled military work experience as electricians, medical technicians, and logistics managers. We must build partnerships between the military and the private sector so that every veteran can bridge military service with building a career and a life back home. It is also our responsibility to combat homelessness, addiction, and unemployment in the veteran community, making sure that we defend their livelihood the way they once defended ours.
The face of our military has evolved along with the face of our nation. Earlier this year, I was thrilled to see the official recognition of women in combat roles, a transition that acknowledged the contributions women have been making in our armed services for years. As we see more and more women serving in uniform, we will need to work together to end sexual assault in the armed services, and to make sure that healthcare, training, and benefits meet the needs of each of our brave men and women in uniform.