RELEASE: On the 80th Anniversary of D-Day, Gottheimer Announces a New “Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans”

Urges the DOD and VA to recognize the skills veterans gain while serving. Supports new legislation that ensures our veterans secure quality jobs after transitioning to civilian life

Jun 06, 2024
Press

Above: Gottheimer announces the “Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans.”

FORT LEE, NJ — Today, Thursday, June 6, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined the Fort Lee VFW to announce his new “Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans,” which will help our nation’s heroes secure quality jobs after they transition to civilian life. 

Video of Gottheimer’s announcement can be found here.

Each year, nearly 200,000 servicemembers transition out of the military. Surveys show that these new veterans struggle with underemployment, meaning they cannot find jobs that fully use the skills they’ve gained in the military. In fact, nearly one-third of veteran job seekers are underemployed, which is almost twice as high as the rate for civilians. Gottheimer’s “Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans” aims to tackle this underemployment challenge head-on.

“There is nothing more important in this job than my responsibility to always have the backs of those who have stepped up to protect us. After sacrificing so much, our veterans and active duty military should never struggle to get the care, recognition, and respect they have rightfully earned,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “That’s why today, I’m excited to announce our new ‘Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans.’ When Jersey veterans come home, after they’ve fought for our country and accumulated countless skills, there is no reason they should have to fight to get a job.”

Gottheimer’s “Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans” includes:

  • A letter to Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Denis McDonough and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, urging them to develop a skills-based badging program for competencies that veterans learn while serving like IT, logistics, and electrical work.
    • Employers can look at these badges just like a transcript and know that veterans are equipped to succeed in a job starting on day one. 
  • New legislation as part of the FY2025 Veterans’ Affairs funding package, which expands support in the VA Transition Assistance Program.
    • This legislation provides critical information, resources, and tools to servicemembers and their families to prepare for the move from military to civilian life like how to start a small business, how to manage their finances, and how to enroll in higher education. 
  • Support for the Manufacturing Jobs for Veterans Act of 2024, which will invest $50 million across three states to create veterans’ manufacturing pilot programs.
    • These programs will work with our labor organizations to offer high-quality targeted training and apprenticeships. This bill ensures our veterans are ready to fill the two million projected vacancies in the manufacturing sector in the next decade.

Gottheimer has been focused on getting veterans quality jobs since he first entered office in 2017. In fact, the very first amendment he passed in the House worked to accelerate the hiring of post-9/11 veterans at the VA.

Gottheimer began today’s event by highlighting yesterday’s announcement regarding the Congestion Tax. After a five year fight, New York announced that it would indefinitely pause the Congestion Tax ahead of its June 30th implementation. Congressman Gottheimer has led the charge against the Tax, which would have whacked hardworking Jersey families who commute into the city with a $4,000/year extra tax. By working together with local and state officials, labor groups, and small business owners, he helped put a stop to the tax, saving working families thousands of dollars.

Gottheimer was joined by Bergen County Commissioner Chairwoman Germaine Ortiz, Bergen County Commissioner Mary Amoroso, Bergen County Commissioner Dr. Joan Voss, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, Fort Lee Council President Harvey Sohmer, Fort Lee Councilman Paul Yoon, Bergen County Director of Veteran Services Shaun Hutchinson, and VFW Cairola-Barber Post 2342 Commander Anthony Lione.

Below: Gottheimer meets with a veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge

Below: Gottheimer announces the “Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans.”

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Good morning. I’m honored to join you and so many of our great veterans today here at the Fort Lee VFW, on the eightieth anniversary of D-Day.

Before I dive in, I wanted to take a few minutes to walk through some great news that we learned just yesterday: after a five year fight, working together, we got it done! New York appears to have done right by hardworking Jersey families and backed off of their outrageous Congestion Tax, helping save Jersey commuters and families thousands of dollars a year.

Five years ago, I said that we would fight for Jersey families until the very end, and that’s exactly what we did. With only 25 days to spare before the $15 a day new Congestion Tax went into effect, New York announced an indefinite pause. We threw the kitchen sink at New York — and then some — and got it done. I’ve introduced bipartisan bills, submitted FOIL requests, stood with families, cops, firefighters, small business owners, written reports and letters, testified before committees, and held countless press conferences to call attention to this disastrous tax and the effects it would have on hardworking Jersey families, on traffic, and the environment. 

Even when some said the fight was over, we kept going. We just kept going and going – never backing down, and we got it done! With this new announcement, Jersey families, their wallets, and the environment won big. By standing up to the Congestion Tax, we’re saving hardworking Jersey families and small business owners thousands of dollars a year. As I always say, don’t mess with Jersey. 

I want to thank Governor Hochul, Governor Murphy, all involved elected officials, including those standing with me here, and especially the tireless advocates who focused on the key facts: the Congestion Tax would have caused more traffic and cancer-causing pollution for children in northern Jersey and the outer boroughs. Because we’re in Fort Lee, I want to give a special shout out to Mayor Sokolich. He’s been a great partner on the front lines of this fight against the Congestion Tax, advocating for Fort Lee residents who would be especially affected. 

I’m hopeful that, considering yesterday’s announcement, New Jersey and New York can get back to doing what it does best: working together. We’ve had a rock-solid, cooperative relationship at the Port Authority for more than 100 years, which has benefitted both sides of the Hudson. We need to get back to work to invest in the next Newark Airport terminal, build the new bus station in New York, modernize our ports, invest in our bridges and tunnels, and do all we can to keep the nation’s commerce flowing through our region. 

I will never stop fighting for Jersey and its amazing people — its families, small businesses, and workers. They are why I wake up every day and get to work. I’m glad to see this victory, and now for the next fight for Jersey families. 

Speaking of that, today is the eightieth anniversary of D-Day. Eight decades ago, thousands of brave American soldiers readied themselves to invade the beaches of Normandy and liberate France from Nazi control. In the face of evil and death, the Greatest Generation stood strong and fought valiantly. Because of their courage on that day, we defeated the Nazis, and America cemented itself as a global force for peace and good. 

In every era, the United States military, our nation’s heroes, have put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms, our families, and the greatest democracy the world has ever seen. The reality is that freedom isn’t free – and that’s not just a line. As a member of the Intelligence Committee, we see it today with the new axis of evil – China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. We owe these brave men and women an immense debt of gratitude for all they do.

There is nothing more important in this job than my responsibility to always have the backs of those who have stepped up to protect us. After sacrificing so much, our veterans and active duty military should never struggle to get the care, recognition, and respect they have rightfully earned.

I always tell my kids that when we see a veteran, we should always thank you for your service. And it’s true: I want to give a heartfelt thank you and a round of applause to all the veterans who have joined us.

But just saying “thank you” isn’t enough, we also need to show our gratitude for our veterans with our deeds, not just our words. That’s why today, I’m excited to announce our new “Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans.” When Jersey veterans come home, after they’ve fought for our country and accumulated countless skills, there is no reason they should have to fight to get a job.

The facts are clear: when members of the United States military wrap up their service, they face difficulty breaking into the job market. According to a survey from Prudential, sixty-nine percent of veterans reported that “finding a job” was the greatest challenge facing our servicemembers when they transitioned to civilian life. We need to ensure our veterans can get quality jobs that recognizes and values the skills our veterans learn while in the military – like driving a truck, coding, fixing cars, and first aid and medical skills. That same study found that sixty percent of veterans had trouble translating their military experience for civilian employers. This mismatch between military and civilian life results in underemployment. According to data from Zip Recruiter and the Call of Duty Endowment, nearly one-third of veteran job seekers are underemployed, nearly twice as high as the rate for civilians.

Underemployment is a huge challenge — for our veterans and for our entire economy. It means that you’re in a job that you’re overqualified for – or put another way, you’ve accumulated certain skills that are being utilized in your job, and, as a result, you’re often not getting paid enough. Those who are underemployed often struggle to make ends meet and get the training they need to upskill and move on. A quality job isn’t just about the paycheck: the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or VA has said that employment is key to veterans’ mental and physical health. When we help our veterans get the right job with the right pay, we help them thrive. 

I’ve been working to get our veterans quality jobs since I first came to Congress in 2017. In fact, the very first amendment I passed in the House worked to accelerate the hiring of post-9/11 veterans at the VA. Here’s the bottom line: our veterans are exceptional workers who have already gained critical skills while serving our country. We just need to help them formally capture their skills and qualifications for their employers. I’m excited to share three new steps I’m taking as part of my “Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans” to help our veterans secure meaningful, quality jobs.

First, I’m sending a letter to the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs, Denis McDonough and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, urging the VA and DOD to develop a “skills badging program.” Right now, the DOD produces a Joint Services Transcript for every servicemember, which recounts the classes they took while in the service. But, as we all know, you learn so much outside of the classroom and on the job. We need a streamlined system that formally recognizes those valuable experiences and communicates them to employers. 

My letter urges the VA and DOD to develop a clear badging systems for competencies and skills like IT, logistics, and electrical work. Employers can look at these badges just like a transcript and know that our veterans are equipped to succeed in a job starting on day one. These badges are very common in the private sector and easily translate from one job to the next. 

Second, earlier this week, as part of next year’s Veterans Affairs department package, I proudly led and helped pass new legislation in the House that expands support for the VA Transition Assistance Program. It provides critical information, resources, and tools to servicemembers and their families to prepare for the move from military to civilian life like how to start a small business, how to manage your finances, and how to enroll in higher education. 

Nearly 200,000 servicemembers transition to civilian life each year, and this amendment will get them even more support. Unfortunately, some extremists are trying to play politics with our veterans and our VA, but commonsense amendments like mine aren’t Democrat or Republican issues. They’re vital policies that everyone can get behind. I’m confident that my legislation will make it into the final package and benefit countless veterans across our great country.

Finally, as part of my “Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans,” I’m backing new legislation in Congress that will help our veterans break into the manufacturing sector. The Manufacturing Jobs for Veterans Act will invest $50 million across three states to create veterans’ manufacturing pilot programs. These programs will work with our labor organizations to offer high-quality targeted training and apprenticeships. 

This bill is great because it solves two issues at once: it opens doors for our veterans and addresses the major skills shortage in the manufacturing sector — which will experience two million projected vacancies in the next decade. I’m doing everything I can to get this bill passed and to ensure that one of the first statewide pilot programs happens in Jersey to support our state’s veterans.

It is our duty as Americans to not only honor the men and women who serve — all soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and women, and Coast Guardsmen and women — and it’s our responsibility to do everything we can to fight for them and their families when they return. That’s exactly what my “Jobs Plan for America’s Veterans” does. 

I’ll say it again: getting our veterans quality jobs is not a red or blue issue — it’s red, white, and blue. We must stand up for our veterans who have done so much for our country.

Here in the greatest country in the world, we will always take care of our own. That’s how we can ensure that our best days will always be ahead of us.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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