January 10, 2013

The Senate has confirmed Keith Kelly, the commissioner of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, to be the Labor Department’s assistant secretary overseeing the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.

The position has been vacant since Raymond M. Jefferson resigned in July 2011 after an inspector general’s investigation found that he had violated federal procurement rules and ethics principles.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Ismael “Junior” Ortiz has been acting head of the service since Jefferson’s resignation.

Kelly was awarded the Bronze Star for his service with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War.

“Keith’s experience as an infantryman and as Montana’s Labor Commissioner will serve him well in his new role,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who recommended Kelly for the position, said in a statement.

In prepared testimony to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last month, Kelly pledged to improve outreach to service members and veterans to make sure they have access to programs and services to help them find and hold on to civilian jobs.

He also said he would “fully implement and continuously improve” the redesigned Transition Assistance Program, which the Obama administration has vowed to make more effective.

“All too often, those who have given so much for America face a difficult transition back to civilian life and struggle to find a job worthy of their talents,” Kelly said.

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