Veterans Question Unemployment Assistance Impact - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Veterans Question Unemployment Assistance Impact

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Veterans returning home from duty often struggle to find work. But efforts by Senator Patty Murray are working to prepare those men and women for the transition back to the workforce.

Senator Murray wrote the VOW to Hire Heroes Act that became law in 2011 and this week she visited Joint Base Lewis McChord to promote the program that gives veterans assistance to find jobs.

But a local veterans service told me Friday that they're not so sure the program is helping.

Veterans face a difficult transition back into civilian life after service and veteran unemployment rates are high.

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act requires the military to give members support as they try to find a job.

"That means writing a resume, finding out what skills they have and how they translate into the civilian sector, even sometimes before they leave," said Senator Murray.

But a local veterans office tells me many veterans are turning to the GI bill to go to school or disability pay instead of a job.

"A lot of discouraged veterans trying to find work and they can't, has a lot more to do with the bigger picture than it does that they're not getting the help they need. The programs are out there," said Taylor Taranto, Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition.

Taranto believes the government should focus more on the economy to help veterans find employment rather than policies like the VOW act. He calls the act a nice gesture, but ineffective.

"Dismal at best. I think it hasn't done much. I think it's just talk. I don't say it's not fair. I think these are just politicians," Taranto said.

Senator Murray says since the act became law two years ago, the numbers show an impact.

At Joint Base Lewis McChord, participation in the assistance programs doubled and unemployment rates are lower.

"They are far ahead of many bases in our country and we're using them as an example so that everybody works to makes sure that our men women who served us have a job when they come home," Senator Murray said.

Senator Murray's office says that since the VOW to Hire Heroes Act became law, the unemployment rate for post 9/11 veterans in on par with non-veterans.