Heroes for Hire

By:  Rep. Mark Takano
Inland Empire Business Journal

Far too many of our servicemembers are left behind after their service is completed. The difficulties they face reintegrating back into civilian life are real, and we should be doing all we can to ease that transition – for recent veterans especially. In late 2013, it was reported that while the unemployment rate for newer veterans peaked at 13.1% in December 2011, it was still significantly higher than the national average. 

However, we have the tools at our disposal in California to put these heroes back to work and I have a plan to take it national.

In order to do that, I, alongside Rep. Paul Cook and Rep. Mick Mulvaney reintroduced the Work for Warriors Act, which will create a pilot program to explore the nationwide replication and expansion of the California and South Carolina’s direct employment models. These direct employment pilot programs would enhance the efforts of the Department of Defense to provide employment services to members of the Guard and Reserve, and veterans.

Direct employment programs for guardsmen, reservists, and veterans, like California’s Work for Warriors program (WFW) and South Carolina’s National Guard Employment Services program (Employment Services), have a proven record of success. Unlike other veteran employment programs that can cost as much as $10,000 per placement and use websites to post job listings or host career fairs, the California and South Carolina models directly place unemployed servicemembers and veterans into new jobs at a cost of just $500-$800 per placed servicemember. 

Since their creation in 2011 and 2012, respectively, Employment Services has placed more than 2,500 guardsmen in jobs, while WFW has found employment for over 3,100 servicemembers and veterans.

The Work for Warriors program in California is a successful model for putting our heroes back to work. By using direct, cost-effective techniques, job placement programs like this have created a blueprint for helping put servicemembers back to work. We should create a national pilot program to explore its expansion nationwide so we can replicate its success and help our veterans find work.

These heroes are for hire. Let’s put them to work.