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House advances vets bill.

The House of Representatives has approved a bill covering an assortment of issues affecting veterans programs and services. The measure (H.R. 3082), was amended in committee to combine provisions from four other bills and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

As amended, the Veterans Small Business and Memorial Affairs Act includes two pilot projects that could improve employment programs and business opportunities for veterans. It also includes incentives for the VA to award more contracts to veteran-owned small businesses.

It would require the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) to establish professional qualifications and provide training for Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialists and Local Veterans Employment Representatives.

H.R. 3082 also would authorize a 5-year demonstration project to allow the Assistant Secretary of Labor for VETS to contract with non-governmental groups to carry out placement services in high-unemployment areas. Another demonstration project would authorize the Labor Department to identify at least 10 military occupational specialties and work with states and industries to make it easier for veterans to receive civililian licensing for high-demand occupations.

"Many veterans have had excellent training and years of practical experience in the military, yet licensing requirements have made it difficult for them to put their skills to use in the civilian world," said National Service Director Randy Reese.

The bill would set annual contracting goals that require 3 percent of all contracts for the VA be awarded to small businesses owned by veterans.

"Some years ago, Congress passed legislation aimed at improving the ability of veterans and disabled veterans to compete for federal contracts, but the government has not measured up to those requirements," said National Legislative Director Joseph A. Violante. "This bill is a step forward toward providing increased opportunity for veteran business owners."

The bill would also make permanent the VA's authority to furnish a government headstone or marker for veterans who are interred in a marked grave at a private cemetery. Current authority for providing markers is set to expire Dec. 1, 2006.

Also included in the measure is a provision to reinstate education benefits for National Guard members receiving benefits under Chapter 35 who have been forced to discontinue a course of education if called to active duty.

The bill also would extend authorization for work-study positions at VA cemeteries, state veterans homes and state veterans agencies through June 30, 2007.
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Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Previous Article:Changing the rules.
Next Article:TBI: vets, VA face new war's hallmark injury.

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