STEUBENVILLE - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, moved through the crowd at the David Walker American Legion Post 274 Tuesday with the ease of an old friend.
The Ohio Democrat chose the American Legion Hall on North Seventh Street as the backdrop for his plans to reduce unemployment among recently returned military service members.
"The veterans unemployment rate is higher than the national unemployment rate and that is wrong. Men and women in the military service learn skills but those skills don't help them get a job when they return home. We need to help integrate their skill so they can find employment in the private or public sector," said Brown, the senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
DISCUSSING JOBS FOR VETERANS — Schelley Brooks, the executive director of the Jefferson County Veterans Commission, and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, discuss legislation Brown has co-sponsored that would assist returning military veterans to use skills to obtain employment in the public or private sectors when they return from active duty. Brown detailed his proposed legislation during a Tuesday morning press conference at David Walker American Legion Post 274 in Steubenville. - Dave Gossett
Brown said the Troop Talent Act will help veterans to utilize the skills they acquired in the military to find full-time employment.
"This bill has bipartisan support and 15 co-sponsors, so I am optimistic about the legislation," noted Brown.
Brown was supported in his efforts by Mike McGlumphy, director of the One-Stop Jobs Center, who is a 20-year Navy veteran.
"I can sit back and look at the skills I learned in the Navy that I couldn't transfer to a job. I went on to obtain my bachelor's degree but I couldn't transfer my Navy job skills toward that degree. This bill would have helped me when I left the Navy," explained McGlumphy.
Brown was also joined Tuesday morning by Schelley Brooks, executive director of the Jefferson County Veterans Services Commission.
"I welcome this legislation because it is a win-win for employers and veterans. A returning veteran can sustain his or her life with employment," remarked Brooks.
According to Brown, the Department of Defense doesn't always communicate well with the Veterans Affairs Administration.
"This legislation will help coordinate the available programs for veterans after they leave the service. It will help match up the skills the service members obtained with possible jobs. If you were a medic in Afghanistan dealing with wounded military men and women there is no reason you can't get licensed as an EMT. And if you drove a truck in the military you should get a leg up on obtaining your CDL. I want to make sure it is done better than it is now," declared Brown.
"Unemployment numbers are worse for veterans. We should connect the skills military veterans have with the job opportunities," he said.
Brown also addressed several other topics including the recent budget battle that saw the federal government shut down operations.
"Hopefully, the Republicans who shut down our government learned the public wants to move forward with Obamacare. Approximately 100,000 Ohio residents will be able to get health care on Jan. 1. I believe we can do things on a bipartisan level. I can see the atmosphere changing because the public was very unhappy with what happened. House Speaker John Boehner made the right decision for the country. We proved in the 1990s the best way to help the economy is by growing jobs," stated Brown.
Brown also said he is very concerned about Ormet and its employees.
"I have talked to the United Steelworkers and to AEP. I know their cost of producing aluminum is high and, hopefully, we can work something out. I am always ready to step up when there is a chance to save jobs," said Brown.
"Unemployment is slowly getting better. The government shutdown certainly hurt the economy and our federal budget. Job growth is important and we need to focus on that," noted Brown.