Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Congress passes bill to make Vets’ Corps

Congress passes bill to make Vets’ Corps

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 31, 2009 16:28:19 EDT

Legislation that would create a Veterans’ Corps as a new element of the AmeriCorps national service plan has passed Congress and is on its way to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., one of the chief sponsors of the Veterans’ Corps portion of the national service expansion, said he has high hopes for the new program that will give veterans a way to help other veterans make the transition to civilian life.

“As more and more troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, fulfilling our promise to them will be an even greater priority for this nation,” Hare said in a statement. “The Veterans’ Corps will help us recruit and mobilize veterans into service projects providing educational and economic opportunities, job training, mentoring and outreach to other veterans.”

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who helped shepherd the national service expansion through the House of Representatives, said having a program aimed at veterans makes sense.

“With the economy in crisis, and unemployment for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at 11 percent, this bill rightly addresses the harsh realities facing veterans and their families,” he said. “Veterans understand better than anyone the unique needs of their fellow servicemen, servicewomen and military families.”

There is little doubt the bill will be signed into law, as the details are modeled after an expansion of national service that Obama called for last year during the presidential campaign.

The bill, HR 1388, does not specify how many people will be able to sign up for the Veterans’ Corps, but it greatly expands the size of the U.S. national service program.

Under the bill, which lawmakers decided to name the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, the number of national service positions would be about 88,000 in 2010 but would grow to 250,000 by 2017.

The Corporation of National and Community Service, which oversees the program, will decide how many of the positions would fall to the Veterans’ Corps.

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