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January/February 2020

The Valor Act


Enacted in 2017, the Veterans Apprenticeship and Labor Opportunity Reform Act addresses a technicality in previous non-federal on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs under the aegis of the GI Bill. Under the old terms, an employer with operations in more than one state had to have those programs approved by each state. A construction firm headquartered in, say, Maryland would have to go through the paperwork required by veterans’ and labor offices in every state in which it did business. Those approval rules now transfer across state lines.

That may seem a small thing, but the old administrative hurdle kept many would-be employers from offering apprenticeship or OJT programs in the first place, since approval criteria differed from state to state and agency to agency—as did timekeeping requirements in reporting hours spent in training. It was for that reason that three U.S. Representatives—Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Jodey Arrington (R-Tex.), and Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.)—came together to push the reform through Congress. Khanna, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said: “Something as simple as paperwork should not stop employers from hiring veterans.”

Apprenticeship programs still must meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor, but, added Arrington, “The VALOR Act eliminates needless burden and bureaucracy in the transition of our veterans from deployment to employment.” Congress agreed: The VALOR Act sailed through the House and Senate by unanimous consent and was signed into law by the President in just two weeks.

Thanks to the terms of the VALOR Act and other GI Bill programs providing housing allowances and other funds, veterans will find it much easier to apply for paid training programs in the civilian world, with state veterans’ agencies, and with private clearinghouses such as Helmets to Hardhats (https://helmetstohardhats.org) providing assistance in locating such opportunities. For more information, go to https://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship

© Travis King






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