New Bipartisan Sinema Bill Helps Reduce Veterans’ Unemployment

Mar 3, 2020

Sinema’s bill ensures all veterans, regardless of age, can access the employment benefits they’ve earned

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced a new bipartisan bill that ensures all veterans, regardless of age, can access critical employment benefits.
Sinema’s Reduce Unemployment for Veterans of All Ages Act, cosponsored by Republican Senators Dan Sullivan (AK) and John Hoeven (ND), ends the 12-year limit on disabled veterans accessing the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefit. Currently, veterans with service-related disabilities must access this benefit within 12 years of discharging from the military. Sinema’s bill lifts this arbitrary cap, ensuring all veterans eligible for this benefit can access it whenever they need to achieve their career goals.  
“Veterans with service-connected disabilities made incredible sacrifices to keep Arizonans safe and secure, and they all deserve access to critical employment benefits,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Ending the unnecessary time-limit for veterans’ job benefits reduces veterans’ unemployment and helps ensure all veterans can use the benefits they’ve earned.”
“Service-disabled veterans must often face a lifetime of changing variances in their disabilities due to any number of medical or psychological factors, and that means that for many, their ability to maintain a stable supportive lifestyle for themselves and their family over the long-term is at a predictable risk. An additional, and unnecessary, hindrance to their ability to establish and maintain a long-term stable lifestyle with their disabilities is the arbitrary application of a limited period of eligibility requirement for current vocational rehabilitation and employment programs that ignore the reality of such over-a-lifetime vocational or work force deviations,” said Jim Ellars, VFW, Department of Arizona, National Legislative Officer.
“Veterans and members of our military pick up many valuable skill sets during their service to our country,”  said Senator Sullivan. “Ensuring that VA Vocational Rehab and Employment programs are available to veterans of all ages will encourage life-long learning and increased employment opportunities for our service-disabled veterans. As a co-chair of the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus, I am proud to have worked with my colleagues on this bipartisan bill which reaffirms just how important training and education are to our veterans in many different circumstances.”
“The VA’s VR&E services help veterans overcome the challenges of their service-connected injuries and access good employment opportunities,” said Senator Hoeven. “Veterans who are service-disabled have earned this kind of support, regardless of when they served, which is why we are working to lift the 12-year limitation for eligibility. Doing so will help provide veterans with greater self-sufficiency, better financial security and a higher quality of life.”

Service-disabled veterans have access to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, which includes job-seeking skills training, resume development, counseling, and on the job training. The eligibility to access this program expires after 12 years from a veteran’s military separation or from first receiving a VA disability rating, harming older veterans. This eligibility period may be extended under certain circumstances as determined by VA, but excludes some veterans who would otherwise qualify for the benefit because of their service-connected disability. This legislation allows all eligible veterans, regardless of age to access the benefits they’ve earned.
Sinema’s legislation is supported by the American Legion, Student Veterans of America, Veterans Education Success,Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Sinema has long been a champion for Arizona veterans and servicemembers. Two of Sinema’s bills focused on helping Arizona veterans were recently signed into law. Sinema’s LEGION Act, which extends American Legion membership to honorably discharged veterans since World War II, and her Protecting Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act, which safeguards veterans from predatory loan practices and helps them more easily access their earned homeowner benefits, became law last year.
Last year, Sinema championed into law the bipartisan Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act, which was named after Sgt. Daniel Somers—an Arizona Army veteran who lost his life to suicide. Sinema’s bipartisan law requires the Department of Defense to work with the American Red Cross to collect from new servicemembers the names of loved ones they consider to be their networks of support. The Department of Defense will provide those individuals with information about benefits and services available to military members.
Sinema introduced and advanced out of committee, the bipartisan Veterans Network of Support Act—legislation that ensures the VA has a similar system in place to help veterans thrive in civilian life.