February 13, 2015

Oregon Senators Announce Restoration of Veterans Employment Program

Wyden and Merkley announce critical job assistance for veterans

Washington, DC – Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced more than $1.4 million for an Oregon National Guard program that helps servicemembers and veterans find jobs when they return home.

When funding for the Joint Transition Assistance Program (JTAP) lapsed late last year, the Senators asked the National Guard Bureau to work with them to provide emergency resources.  Today’s announcement represents the fruit of the Senators’ labor and is especially timely given that nearly 1,000 citizen-soldiers and airmen are scheduled to return from service overseas this spring and summer, including from Afghanistan and Kuwait.

“Our Guardsmen put their careers on hold and their lives at risk to answer the country’s call,” Wyden said. As somebody who helped establish JTAP, I’m just so honored to announce that these critical services will be there when our Guardsmen need them most.”

"Our troops have stood up for us, and now we must stand up for them. Providing our veterans with the necessary resources to help find jobs here in Oregon is crucial to the transition back to civilian life," said Merkley. "This funding for the Joint Transition Assistance Program will directly help our men and women returning from war get the stable foundation they need to move forward.”

Guard officials said the money will be invaluable in hiring 10 transition assistance specialists for the Service Member and Family Support Program, who will help support the Guardsmen returning to Oregon in the next several months.

The transition assistance program has helped thousands of servicemembers and veterans find work since its inception.

“Let me express my deep thanks to our two senators and their staff for their advocacy for our employment and education specialists,” said Chaplain (Colonel) Terry Larkin, Director of Service Member and Family Support for the Oregon National Guard. “It's because of the great support of our Oregon congressional staff that this valuable service will be available to our returning veterans.”  

The National Guard has a dual mission: state and federal. The federal mission is to maintain properly trained and equipped units, to be available for prompt mobilization for war, national emergency, or as otherwise needed. At the state level, the governors of each state reserve the ability to call up members of the National Guard in time of domestic emergencies or need. Here in Oregon, the Oregon Army National Guard has been called upon to fight forest fires, perform search and rescue operations, and fight raging floodwaters.