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Potential veteran jobs corps could bring help to North Country

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New federal legislation could spur the creation of a job training and employment program for veterans in public and nonprofit entities.

The Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012 would fund grants or contracts to state and local governments to support new training and hirings running at least a year.

The measure, first proposed by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., was supported Wednesday by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

“We have to watch their backs, because they’ve spent years of their lives watching ours,” Sen. Schumer said in a conference call with reporters.

He said he envisioned the jobs corps program running similarly to AmeriCorps, placing veterans into public service roles throughout communities.

“Who better to trust as our next generation of police officers and firefighters?” Sen. Schumer said.

The senator pointed out that many of the skills military members learn while in uniform should easily convert into civilian workplaces.

“They don’t lose the skills while serving,” he said.

Instead, Sen. Schumer said, many veterans find themselves starting from scratch when leaving the military.

“That’s unacceptable,” he said.

He said in the call that the measure would be paid for through Internal Revenue Service levies against delinquent Medicare providers along with the collection of taxes from citizens whose nonpayment otherwise would lead to the forfeiture of their passports.

Sen. Schumer said that the state had the seventh highest level of unemployed veterans, and that upstate New York had more than 16,000 unemployed veterans.

At the local level, recent figures show Jefferson County had 321 veterans unemployed, about 5.3 percent unemployment. Comparatively, St. Lawrence County had 229 unemployed veterans, about 6.3 percent, and Lewis County had 108 unemployed veterans, totaling 8.8 percent.

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