Denham Joins Amtrak for Veterans Hiring Announcement, Grand Reveal of Commemorative Locomotive

Jun 26, 2013 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Transportation, Veterans

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) today joined Amtrak for the unveiling of their new locomotive honoring veterans, where the national passenger rail provider announced their new goal of 25 percent of new hires to be veterans by 2015.

Rep. Denham joined Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Michael L. Rhodes with the Office of the Secretary of Defense during a special ceremony held for the announcement of Amtrak’s new hiring initiative at Washington Union Station.

Rep. Denham and Sen. Manchin are co-chairs of the Congressional Veterans Job Caucus, which Amtrak has recently joined as the Caucus’ newest corporate partner. The Jobs Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators working with some of America’s leading companies to find solutions for the 783,000 veterans currently unemployed across the country. The Caucus’s signature initiative is the “I Hire Veterans” program.

Rep. Denham’s remarks in support Amtrak’s new hiring initiative to employ more veterans follow:

(Remarks as Prepared)

Thank you to Mr. Boardman for the introduction and to my friend and Veterans Jobs Caucus Co-Chair Senator Manchin for his remarks.

As a veteran and founder of the Veterans Jobs Caucus, it is a great privilege to be here today for the announcement of Amtrak’s new veteran hiring program and the unveiling of their new locomotive to honor our veterans. 

These initiatives show us once again that Amtrak is truly “America’s Railroad.”

I would like to personally thank Mr. Boardman for his willingness to address the problem of persistent veteran unemployment. I have worked with him closely in my role as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Rail to ensure the future viability of passenger rail. 

Having Amtrak join with the Veterans Jobs Caucus gives us another opportunity to partner on an important project.

The 50th Anniversary of our involvement in Vietnam, which this locomotive will in part commemorate, should compel us to reflect on how we care for those who return from conflict. 

Many of the issues facing veterans today, such as PTSD, homelessness and reintegration, first came to the attention of the American people as a result of our engagement in Vietnam. 

Mr. Boardman served in that conflict, as did others who are here today.  I think they could tell you better than I that in many instances, we failed as a society to support those who returned.

Today we have an American public united behind our veterans. Yet the challenges faced by those who have served, many with multiple tours, require dedicated leadership from the public and private sectors. We must translate the goodwill of the American people into effective action on behalf of our veterans.

What does that action look like?  What our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who leave the service want most is the dignity of a job.  We often talk about health care and education for our veterans, but employment should be our first priority.

As Senator Manchin said, to “help a vet you need to hire a vet,” and that need is great.

There are approximately 750,000 veterans currently looking for work. As we look to the future, we see that the draw down from a decade of war will mean over 250,000 servicemen transitioning to civilian life each year for the next five years.

Amtrak is right to recognize that this a talent pool that can and should be put to work right away. 

In fact, their pledge to make 25 percent of new hires veterans is only possible because these men and women represent the most professional force that our nation has ever fielded.

The Department of Defense spends over $140 billion annually on training our service men and women, giving them essential job skills they can bring to the private sector.

It is my hope that as this locomotive travels across the country it will remind Americans not just of the debt that we owe those who served but will inspire other companies to follow Amtrak’s lead by making a similar commitment. 

More information about today’s event is available through Amtrak.