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Senate panel passes bill on job training for military

The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has approved legislation that would require broad job-skills training for all U.S. service members before leaving the military.

The bill, aimed at cutting the high unemployment rate among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was unanimously endorsed by the panel Wednesday.

The legislation would provide “veterans with the broad job-skills training and support they need to break down barriers to employment,” committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said. “For the first time, this comprehensive bill will require service members to learn how to translate the skills they learned in the military into the working world.”

The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 would require all departing service members to participate in the Transition Assistance Program, administered by the Labor Department in partnership with the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The training, now voluntary, includes job-search techniques, resume writing and interviewing tips.

“We ask our military men and women to risk their lives for our country each and every day,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), a bill sponsor. “The least we can do is make sure they don’t have to struggle to stay healthy or get back to work when they come home.”

More than one in four veterans ages 20 to 24 are unemployed, according to Labor Department figures.

The bill would modify federal hiring practices to encourage the hiring of departing service members and would allow service members to begin the federal employment hiring process before their separation from the military. “It will . . . ensure that more veterans have jobs waiting for them when they leave the military by streamlining the path to private and federal employment,” Murray said.

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