LETTER: Enforce Existing Veteran Employment Laws

By Beacon Staff

Dear Senator Baucus,

While I commend you on your effort to help out our returning veterans (I am a veteran myself), I write to share my mixed feelings about adding additional rules and laws to the already existing laws. We have in existence the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), amended in 2005 and placed into law in 2006. We also have history dating back to 1940 of efforts in the form of laws to assist vets on return from serving our country.

When I look at the growing number of unemployed, I wonder where you expect to find the jobs that you describe in your bill for our veterans. We have reported unemployment of around 8 percent, and real numbers approaching 20 percent. This means that one in five able-bodied workers are in need of employment. Many of these are hardworking, qualified folks, and many of them have done their time in the service of our country.

I strongly recommend that your efforts be put toward USERRA, which guarantees them re-employment by the company they left when called to serve their country. Given that some of these returning veterans may have been without a job when they enlisted, these veterans could likely use an assist and we as a country should do our best to give that assist. However, considering the unemployment numbers, I believe that those who left their employment to serve our country would be grateful to get their old job and benefits back, as the existing law is written. When they have settled back into civilian life and working then they can search out opportunities that suit their technical capabilities. It is always best to have a job when searching out new employment.

What I ask is for you and others in service in Washington, DC to enforce the existing laws.

John O’Neil