VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS BACK REP. RICE'S BRAVE ACT
American Legion, VFW and IAVA support bill to incentivize VA contractors to actively hire veterans
WASHINGTON – At a House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity legislative hearing yesterday, U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice’s BRAVE Act (H.R. 1382) received the support of several major veterans organizations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). The bill is now scheduled to be marked up by the Subcommittee on April 16, 2015.
The BRAVE Act (Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment) is the first bill Rice has introduced since she was sworn into office in January. The bipartisan legislation authorizes the VA to give preference to companies with high concentrations of veteran employees when awarding VA contracts, which would provide an advantage to companies that actively hire veterans and create an incentive for other companies to do the same. Rice’s lead Republican sponsor is Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA), and their cosponsors include Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Ralph Abraham (R-LA) and John Garamendi (D-CA).
Testifying before the Subcommittee yesterday, VFW Deputy Legislative Director Aleks Morosky said, “The VFW supports the BRAVE Act, which would allow the VA to give preference to prospective contractors based on the percentage of veterans their companies employ. Such a policy would potentially incentivize companies to hire more veterans. The VFW believes that such incentives are still necessary, in light of the fact that the unemployment rate for current-era veterans continues to outpace that of the nation at-large.”
The American Legion submitted written testimony in support of the bill, noting that they believe the BRAVE Act will accomplish what previous attempts at imposing additional data-collection and reporting requirements on government contractors have tried to do. “This bill would again ask private industry to shoulder this ‘burdensome’ task. But this time, instead of forcing contracting firms to report on veteran hires, the bill incentivizes them to undertake additional veteran employee counting requirements on a voluntary basis. More importantly, this bill will spur the hiring of veterans into coveted positions within these large government contractors. We are pleased that the bill only extends the count to veterans on staff at the time of the proposal and does not include contingent hires, because government still lacks the capability of tracking whether a bid-winner makes all their prospective contingent hires. Resolution 334 states that The American Legion will support legislation ensuring that veterans receive employment preference from employers who receive grants and contracts from the federal government.”
In a written letter of support, IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff said the BRAVE Act “will promote federal business opportunities for companies that provide veterans with meaningful jobs. IAVA believes veterans deserve quality employment opportunities. This legislation will promote and reward companies that step up and make the smart choice to invest in hiring veterans. We are proud to offer our support.”
“I’m grateful to these organizations for their support and for everything they do to serve American veterans,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “The employment rate among post-9/11 veterans is still lagging behind that of the overall population. That’s completely unacceptable, and the way to change it is by making companies recognize that hiring veterans isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s a smart investment. The BRAVE Act will help accomplish that, and I look forward to working with these organizations and my colleagues in Congress to get it passed.”
Rice’s opening statement from yesterday’s Subcommittee hearing is available here.