Patty MurrayU.S. Senator Class 3
[D] Washington, United States

Length: 4 minutes, 16 seconds

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I come to the floor to honor and commemorate the men and women who died fighting for our great country.

Memorial Day is a day to honor those American heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation. It is because of their sacrifice that we can safely enjoy the freedoms our great country offers. It is because of their unmatched commitment that America can remain a beacon for democracy and freedom throughout the world.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, but it is also a day of reflection. When our brave men and women volunteered to protect our Nation, we promised them we would take care of them and their families when they return home.

On this Memorial Day, we need to ask ourselves: Are we doing enough for our Nation's veterans? Making sure our veterans can find jobs when they come back home is an area where we must do more.

For too long, we have been investing billions of dollars training our young men and women to protect our Nation, only to ignore them when they come home. For too long, we have patted them on the back and pushed them into the job market with no support. That is simply unacceptable, and it does not meet the promise we made to our servicemembers.

Our hands-off approach has left us with an unemployment rate of over 27 percent among young veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. That is 1 in 5 of our Nation's heroes who cannot find a job to support their family and who do not have an income to provide the stability that is so critical to their transition home.

That is exactly why earlier this month I introduced the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, which is now cosponsored by 17 Senators and has garnered bipartisan support. This legislation will rethink the way we support our men and women in uniform when they come home to look for a job.

I introduced this critical legislation because I have heard firsthand from so many veterans that we have not done enough to provide them with the support they need to find work.

I have heard from medics who return home from treating battlefield wounds who cannot get certification to be an EMT or drive an ambulance. I have heard from veterans who tell me they no longer write that they are a veteran on their resume because they fear the stigma they believe employers attach to the invisible wounds of war.

These stories are heartbreaking and they are frustrating. But more than anything, they are a reminder that we have to act now.

My legislation will allow our servicemembers to capitalize on their service. For the first time, it will require broad job skills training for anyone leaving the military as part of the military's Transition Assistance Program. Today, over one-third of those leaving the Army do not get any of that training.

My bill will also require the Department of Labor to take a hard look at what military skills and training should be translatable into the civilian sector and will work to make it simpler to get those licenses and certifications our veterans need.

All of these are real, substantial steps to put our veterans to work. All of them come at a pivotal time for our economic recovery and our veterans.

I grew up with the Vietnam war. I have dedicated much of my Senate career helping to care for the veterans we left behind that time. The mistakes we made then cost our Nation and our veterans dearly. Today, we risk repeating those mistakes. We cannot let that happen again.

Our Nation's veterans are disciplined, they are team players who have proven they can deliver under pressure like no one else. So let's not let another year and another Memorial Day go by without us delivering for them.

I yield the floor.