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Congressman Rangel Proposes Transition Assistance for Military Veterans

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By Gregory Dale, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

With unemployment among the nation’s veterans soaring, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) on May 24 proposed legislation to ensure military personnel a smooth transition back to civilian life after service.

The proposed measure, named the Mandatory Transition Assistance Act, would require the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security to make participation in Transition Assistance Programs mandatory for all military personnel prior to their discharge. Veterans would also be assigned a counselor and would be taught job acquisition skills including interview techniques, résumé construction, and salary negotiations.

“Our soldiers often come back from their duty with wounds, both visible and invisible,” Rangel told the AFRO in an emailed statement. “In these tough economic times, they rarely have time to heal and adjust to civilian life before worrying about how to survive at home. By completing the Transition Assistance Programs upon discharge, our servicemen and women, who have already proven their competence, can be fully prepared to join the civilian workforce.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly 25 percent of veterans under 25-years-old are currently unemployed. Additionally, returning veterans who do find jobs earn an average of $5,736 less a year than civilians who had not served in the military. Returning soldiers with college degrees earn $9,526 less than their non-serving counterparts.

Also, more than 15 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan discharged war veterans were unemployed in January 2011, significantly exceeding the national jobless rate.

“America has lost over 6,000 lives fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan--five of these fallen heroes are from my Upper Manhattan District,” Rangel said in a statement. “We owe it to our brave men and women who risk their lives every day in defense of our great nation to provide them with the necessary tools to succeed when they come home.”

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