NEWBURGH – At Continental Organics, a service disabled veteran-owned small business, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced that he would be introducing new bipartisan legislation, the Wounded Warrior Employment Improvement Act, to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program, the key employment-oriented program to help assist, train and find suitable jobs for veterans with compensable service-connected disabilities. Supported by the Wounded Warrior Project, DAV and VetsFirst, Maloney’s legislation requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to put in place a plan to reduce caseloads, increase enrollment in education programs, and implement a new training program for staff working with wounded warriors.
"After our brave men and women have dedicated their lives in service to our country, far too many of our wounded warriors face challenges in finding meaningful careers. We can make commonsense reforms to VA’s key employment program to help our heroes and ensure our highly skilled veterans secure employment upon their return to civilian life," said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney.
As a recent GAO report identified, it often takes 6 years or more for veterans to achieve success in the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program. According the Wounded Warrior Project’s most recent survey, the unemployment rate among wounded service members is 17.8%. In New York, the average veterans unemployment rate was at 8.2% throughout 2013.
Maloney now has two constituent advocates on staff including one through the Wounded Warrior program to help veterans with educational, disability, retirement, medical, burial, spousal and dependents’ benefit claims as well as the correction of military records and medals. Maloney’s constituent advocates have helped to return more than $1.73 million back to hundreds of Hudson Valley veterans owed compensation.
Earlier this year, Maloney supported Governor Cuomo and State Senator Greg Ball’s Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act, which established a six percent goal for participation on state contracts by these businesses in addition to other measures to support disabled veteran-owned companies.