In-Depth: Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to reward companies that hire veterans by giving them preference when competing for VA contracts:
“One of the biggest problems facing our veterans right now, especially those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is finding good jobs in civilian life. We’ve seen progress in recent years, but the unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans is still higher than the national average – and that’s completely unacceptable. Our veterans have received the best training in the world. They have unique skills and experience that can’t be acquired anywhere but in the United States military. They have what it takes to excel in the civilian workforce – and they don’t need charity. They don’t need a handout. They just need the opportunity. The BRAVE Act will reward companies that provide that opportunity – it gives them an advantage in securing federal contracts, and that creates an incentive for other contractors to step up and do the same, to make it a priority to actively invest in our veterans. And I have no doubt that as contractors hire more veterans, they’ll realize that it’s a smart investment. That’s really what this bill is all about. We don’t just want people to hire veterans because it’s the right thing to do – we want them to realize it’s a smart investment. We want them to recognize that it’s in their own self-interest to actively hire men and women who are highly-trained, highly-skilled and know how to get the job done, whatever job it is. That’s the goal. That’s how we’ll solve this problem and ensure that every single man and woman who served our country can find a good job and succeed in civilian life.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW) Deputy Legislative Director Aleks Morosky, expressing his organization’s support for this bill when Rep. Rice introduced it in the 114th Congress, called it a necessary incentive to encourage companies to hire veterans:
“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.”
While proponents of this bill argue that the veteran unemployment rate is consistently higher than that of the general population, the most recent unemployment statistics don’t support this claim. According to Department of Labor statistics in October 2018, the veteran unemployment rate was 2.9 percent, compared to 3.5 percent for the non-veteran unemployment rate, and an overall national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent.
This bill has passed the House by a unanimous vote and has the support of six cosponsors, including four Democrats and two Republicans. When Rep. Rice introduced this legislation in a previous Congress, it had support from Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
Of Note: The VA establishes long-term contracts with private businesses for medical equipment, supplies, services, and more. Currently, the VA gives preference for these contracts to veteran-owned small businesses, but not to businesses that actively employ veterans.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / asiseeit)