Those who have put service to our nation above all else deserve our respect, our thanks and our assurance that the doors to the future will be open to them. We must demand that education, job training, healthcare, and housing be readily available to these heroes. California is at a critical juncture, and the investments we make now in educating our people are key to our collective success in the years to come. Those returning to California from service in Iraq and Afghanistan have much to give our state, and our state has much to gain from educating them.
VA Claims Backlog
Garamendi has been appalled by the Veterans Administration claims backlog, which has forced veterans to wait many months in a queue to learn if their medical claims will be honored. At every opportunity, Garamendi has voted to reduce the claims backlog. We're not out of the woods yet, but thanks to bipartisan support on this issue, week-by-week, the claims backlog is being reduced. It's a shameful moment in our history that we must never repeat.
Job Training for Veterans
We must invest in education and job training for all Californians, and that includes our young men and women returning to civilian life from the armed forces. That's why Congressman Garamendi is working on reforming policies that force many veterans to seek duplicative and expensive civilian credentials for work they did while in the Air Force. Often, skills directly transfer, such as engine maintenance on an aircraft carrier, driving a truck, or serving as an emergency medical technician.
Through his Jobs Task Force, Garamendi is also involved in a "Just Hire One" campaign, encouraging area businesses to hire at least one veteran. We can all do our part.
Near the close of the Second World War, a grateful nation rewarded the sacrifice of her veterans with the most comprehensive benefits package ever conceived: the Servicemembers' Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill. Not only did it provide full tuition and expenses to any university or college, including the Ivy League, it provided a generous living allowance.
By the time it expired in 1956, more than 7.8 million veterans had benefited from either a comprehensive education or training program, and nearly 2.6 million received VA-backed home loans. It was the investment that contributed significantly to the post-war economic boom and helped establish our nation's once vibrant middle class.
Imagine the positive impact that thousands of trained and educated Californians entering our work force can have on California's fiscal future. This commitment to education and vocational training for all Californians is the real long-term solution to California's fiscal problems and must include our veterans.
There is no better investment in our future. It prepares Californians for good paying jobs and pays off in increased revenues that can then be reinvested to improve the lives of all Californians as well as expand our education and vocational training system.
Californians have made the most significant contribution to support both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, both in numbers and in casualties. The federal government has taken our citizens and used them, and it is now time for our president and Congress to step up and honor California's response to our nation's call.
Garamendi supports an improved G.I. Bill for the 21st century. It would not match the generosity provided to the veterans of the Second World War, but would dramatically increase funding for educational benefits, including specialized trade and technical training and veterans' housing and entrepreneurial opportunities.