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Polis, Ruiz bill will provide veterans with job opportunities on federal lands
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., introduced the Veterans Conservation Corps Act today to connect veterans with employment opportunities in public lands maintenance.
Throughout the U.S., veterans who served in the military after 9/11 consistently have a higher unemployment rate than the general population. At the same time, the National Parks Service has a $12 billion backlog in maintenance, which is needed to mitigate wildfires, and protect our national, state, and tribal forests, coastal areas, wildlife refuges, and cemeteries.
Modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and nonprofit- and state-run corps, the bill will provide transitional assistance to veterans, employing them on projects designed to leverage the skills they developed in the military in fields such as water safety, construction, GIS mapping, and as park rangers.
“The Veterans Conservation Corp goes a long way toward solving two problems: veterans’ unemployment and the need for natural disaster assistance and public land improvements nationwide,” said Polis. “It is truly a win-win. I am hopeful that we can all agree that we should support our veterans through concrete, meaningful actions, and that we should protect our precious public lands that we are so fortunate to share as Americans.”
“Ensuring veterans can secure employment is a crucial part of serving our men and women who have bravely served in uniform. That is why I am proud to introduce the Veterans Conservation Corps Act, which will provide job opportunities to veterans who still want to continue serving our nation by working in our national and state forests, parks, and wildlife refuges to maintain our public lands and protect our natural resources,” said Ruiz.
Studies have shown the extensive benefits associated with employing veterans in public service and outdoor engagement.
The initiative has been widely praised by veteran and environmental advocates, as well as nonprofit and state-run conservation corps.
"Opportunities in our conservations corps are incredible ways for veterans to find new jobs skills, make connections with professionals and find a pathway to a career in land management and wilderness firefighting. I have seen hundreds of veterans rediscover their pride in service and get on their feet after transitioning from the military through hard work in our great outdoors." said Garett Reppenhagen, former US Army sniper.
"Living and working alongside other veteran crew members reminded me of the comradery and values I gained in the Marine Corps. My time in the Southwest Conservation Corps was an unforgettable experience and a life changing salvation, said Ray Curry, Marine Corps veteran, former crew leader at the Southwest Conservation Corps.
In Congress, Polis has actively advocated to increase funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and decrease wait times at VA medical facilities. In addition, he has advocated to protect LGBTQ service members, and his office offers robust constituent services for veterans, completing over 70 veteran/military cases in 2017 alone. For a complete summary of Polis’s achievements on behalf of veterans, please click here.