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Legislation Aims to Bolster Employment for Guardsmen and Spouses

Washington Report

New legislation would create a pilot program aimed at ensuring gainful employment for members of the National Guard and their spouses.

The Work for Warriors Act of 2020 (H.R. 7003) was introduced by Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., last week. If passed, the bill would task the Defense Department with creating a program that will connect local businesses to members of the reserve component and their spouses.

The bill is modeled after California’s Work for Warriors program, said Takano, who is chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. If implemented, the program would aim to connect businesses with job opportunities to a pipeline of qualified candidates.

“The Work for Warriors program has successfully placed thousands of veterans in good jobs, but we owe it to our veterans to do more,” Takano said.

Legislation would direct DoD to create the pilot program and mandate that participating states provide matching dollars to qualify for federal funds. It would also require DoD to submit a report on the program to congressional defense committees.

Members of the National Guard, reservists and their spouses have battled high rates of underemployment and unemployment, Takano said. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the need for a program to help address the issue.

“Too often, veterans and their spouses struggle to secure a job that pays them well,” he said. “Expanding the Work for Warriors program enables us to directly place unemployed veterans and their spouses in jobs and expand resources for thousands across the country in a cost-effective way.”

The Work for Warriors Act is co-sponsored by Rep. Gil Cisneros, D-Calif. It has been referred to the House Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

California’s Work for Warriors program was created in 2012 under the direction of Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, the state’s adjutant general. 

The free job placement program helped reduce unemployment within the California National Guard by 25% in its first year, according to officials. Today, the program has grown to include more than 900 business partnerships throughout the state.