Congressman Kerry Bentivolio

Representing the 11th District of Michigan

The help our veterans need

Nov 19, 2013
Editorial
As seen in the Detroit News...

As a former soldier who served in both the Vietnam and Iraq War, I can tell you that our veterans often find it difficult to transition from military to civilian life. Workplace skill training can be a lifesaver for many of our veterans making the move from our armed services to the private sector.

Too many of our soldiers are finding it difficult to find jobs when they return from overseas. It’s time to help them out.

Some of our veterans would rather go to trade school rather than a four-year college. Our service members deserve to be able to use programs designed to help them succeed after the end of their military career. In order to enter some trades, basic safety training, and in some cases, concepts trainings are needed before they can obtain a job in an apprenticeship field. However, under the current system, benefits cannot be extended to cover those kinds of programs. Business owners have told me that they would love to provide basic skilled-labor training to veterans who want it, but the basic fees are sometimes too high for a business that is barely making it in this tough economy.

The current rules place an unnecessary hardship on our returning men and women who simply want to better themselves once they have serve their country. If they are unable to pay for this pre-apprenticeship training, they may not be able acquire a job in the profession they have chosen, making the educational benefits they were promised useless to them. Our economy is based on all kinds of people doing all kinds of jobs. The GI Bill should not proscribe any kind of education that helps to produce more careers in the United States.

Our nation is currently facing a serious shortage of skilled workers. According to a 2012 study, 53 percent of skilled workers in the country are 45 years old or older. Nearly a fifth are getting ready to retire. If our nation is to compete in a global economy, we need a dedicated and skilled workforce. There’s no better place to look than at our veterans. They are already disciplined and hard workers.

Even during a difficult economy our nation remains the land of opportunity. Every veteran deserves a chance to provide for their families after their service is completed. We should encourage them to enter apprenticeable occupations by giving them all of the tools they need to succeed.

That’s why I have introduced the Veteran’s Entry to Apprenticeship Act. This act amends current law to allow veterans to use their educational benefits for enrollment in pre-apprenticeship programs. We’ve seen a lot of division over the last year, but I believe this can help bridge the partisan gap. Helping our veterans is not liberal or conservative—it is American. Together we can help our former service members and move our economy into the 21st Century.