Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kaine in Salem to learn about programs for veterans

He said he is interested in ways to help returning service personnel find civilian jobs.

Blue Ridge Caucus


The latest from our Blue Ridge Caucus politics blog

    From The Roanoke Times

    Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., paused on his three-day statewide tour to study the effects of a federal budget sequestration to think about future obligations to the nation's veterans.

    Kaine made a point to stop by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem on Wednesday, where he said he was particularly eager to hear about programs to help soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines get back into the work force when they get out of the service.

    "I'm here to learn," he said.

    He said he'll push for legislation to give military personnel credentials recognizing their training and experience that they can use to find work in civilian life.

    Military medics' skills and knowledge, for instance, often aren't recognized by civilian employers, Kaine said.

    Kaine said he also wants to make sure the Veterans Affairs' mental health services are able to help veterans who have served several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Sequestration, the automatic budget cuts that are supposed to take effect next month if Congress can't agree on a deficit-shrinking program, won't affect services to veterans, Kaine said.

    But he hopes his statewide listening tour will help him make the cost of sequestration on the military clearer to his Senate colleagues. His tour included meeting with Norfolk Naval Shipyard workers and a tour of the Norfolk Naval Station. Today, he's meeting National Guard soldiers in Staunton and visiting the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico.

    Kaine said the notion of again postponing sequestration isn't that appealing. Instead, he'd like to see a short-term mix of spending cuts and revenue increases that would have the same effect as sequestration, by reducing the deficit by $85 billion this year.

    Doing that would give Congress breathing room to get back on an annual budget-writing cycle, as both the Senate and House of Representatives have promised to do, holding members' paychecks hostage if they don't, Kaine said today.

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