July 21, 2020

Rep. Mike Levin Leads Congressional Hearing Focused on Getting Veterans Back to Work After COVID-19

Washington, D.C – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA), Chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, led a hearing entitled "Getting Veterans to Work After COVID-19." The hearing featured testimony from Mr. Maurice D. Wilson, MCPO, USN (Ret), President of the National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. Aka Reboot, a San Diego-based organization that helps veterans transition to civilian life and secure gainful employment. Mr. Wilson is also Chair of the San Diego Veterans Coalition’s Education, Employment, and Entrepreneurship (E3) Action Group.

“All Americans are feeling the impact that COVID-19 has had on our economy, and that includes our nation’s heroes,” said Rep. Levin. “As we continue to confront the health and economic crises we’re facing, we must prepare veterans to meet the challenges of the post-coronavirus economy. I appreciate the work that Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials and VSO leaders like Mr. Wilson are doing to support veterans, particularly during these challenging times. Together, we can help ensure that veterans recover from this pandemic and get back to work.”

“As the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences continue to affect our country, unemployment numbers will grow—the bottom line is: we have to get our veterans back to work safely,” said House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano. “I want to thank Chair Levin for holding this critical and timely hearing on what needs to be done to lower veteran unemployment. I’m hopeful that through these programs discussed today we can create new jobs and safely hire veterans during the pandemic and long after its gone.”

“Several workforce studies reveal that reskilling veterans will be paramount as we pull out of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said National Veterans Transition Services President Maurice Wilson in his prepared testimony. “Attempting to re-skill veterans for the post-COVID-19 Pandemic, without addressing known reintegration issues, may result in an increase in veteran unemployment - the evidence suggest that veterans need a behavioral ‘REBOOT’ or reverse-boot camp, prior to reskilling. In light of this need, REBOOT calls on Congress to support the rapid implementation of HR 2326 introduced by Congressman Mike Levin calling for the formation of off-base, Community-led Transition Centers to help address reintegration issues.”

According to the Department of Labor, the June 2020 unemployment rate for veterans was 8.6 percent, up from 4.1 percent prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. While overall veteran unemployment is often lower than the national rate, certain segments of the veteran community see higher rates, such as 10.3 percent for Post-9/11 veterans and 9.6 percent for women veterans.

As Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity and the Representative for veterans surrounding Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, one of Rep. Levin’s top priorities is ensuring that veterans and their families have the economic support they need to recover the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, his bills to strengthen the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and improve the VA's Specially Adapted Housing program passed the House. His legislation to strengthen the Transition Assistance Program by improving counseling pathways for servicemembers returning to civilian life is also expected to pass the House as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Rep. Levin also introduced the Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William “Bill” Mulder (Ret.) Transition Improvement Act of 2019, which was endorsed by Mr. Wilson during his testimony today. That bipartisan bill, which passed the House last year, a would improve the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for servicemembers returning to civilian life. Specifically, it would create a pilot program for off-base transition training to make the transition process easier for veterans and spouses by giving them more time to access resources and digest the information provided to them, all while living in their new community.