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Murray given Colonel Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award
Bothell resident and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was presented the Colonel Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) during an awards ceremony on Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
General John Tilelli, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Directors for MOAA, presented this year’s award to Senator Murray for her work to improve employment opportunities for transitioning service members.
“Veterans have leadership ability, discipline, and technical skills to not only find work but to excel in 21st Century workforce,” said Senator Murray. “Our veterans don’t ask for a lot and too often they are coming home and facing unnecessary stresses and struggles. We all need to work together to guarantee our nation’s heroes get a fair shot -- that they are not measured by fear or stigma; but what they can do, what they have done, and what they will do.”
Here are Murray's prepared remarks for the event:
“Thank you so much to General Tilelli for that introduction. And of course, thank you to Vice Admiral Ryan and his team at MOAA for this honor.
“Serving our men and women in uniform has been a life-long interest of mine. As some of you know, my father was a veteran . And as one of the very first American servicemembers to reach the beaches of Okinawa, my father didn’t talk about his experiences during that time. In fact, we only really learned about them by reading his journals after he passed away.
“When I got older, I again saw first-hand the sacrifices our veterans make. In the summer of 1972 I took an internship in the mental health ward of the Seattle VA. It was there I saw how our nation’s heroes were so easily slipping through the cracks of the system – leaving so many jobless, homeless, and frankly – helpless.
“So when I got to the Senate, not a day went by when I did not think about these experiences and the opportunity I had to do right by these men and women. And although I am no longer the Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I have continued my work on behalf of veterans in my new role as Chairman of Senate Budget Committee.
“And that includes making the transition home for our separated veterans as seamless as possible. Because veterans have leadership ability, discipline, and technical skills to not only find work but to excel in 21st Century workforce. But despite the facts, they continue to struggle. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, veterans ages 18-24 have unemployment rates over 20 percent.
“That’s why I was proud we took a major step towards solving this crisis when President Obama signed into law the VOW to Hire Heroes Act in 2011, legislation I co-authored with Republican Congressman Jeff Miller of Florida.
“Among other things, this law: provides tax incentives to encourage businesses to hire veterans, makes participation in the Transition Assistance Program mandatory for most separating servicemembers, and expands the education and training we provide transitioning servicemembers.
“Thanks to this legislation we have been able to take a real, concrete step toward putting our veterans to work. However, the bill is only that – a first step.
“That’s why I am so glad MOAA is working with businesses like Caterpillar and they recognize the importance of the next step: building partnerships with private business large and small to hire our nation’s heroes.
“So I’d just like to touch on a few things all businesses can do to bring our nation’s heroes into their companies.
“First, we need to get the word out to companies to educate their human resources teams about the benefits of hiring veterans and how skills learned in the military translate to the work a company does. I can’t tell you how often I hear from veterans who tell me that the terms they use in interviews and on resumes fail to get through to interviewers.
“Second, we need to help companies provide job training and resources for transitioning servicemembers. This is something I’ve seen done at large organizations like Amazon and Microsoft but also at smaller companies in conjunction with local colleges. In fact, the most successful of these programs capitalize on skills developed during military service but also utilize on-the-job training.
“Third, we can all work to let business leaders know how important it is to publicize job openings with Veterans Service Organizations, at local military bases to help connect veterans with jobs, and to work with local One-Stop Career Centers.
“Fourth, we must encourage businesses to develop an internal veterans group within your company to mentor recently discharged veterans.
“And finally, businesses must reach out to local community colleges and universities to help develop a pipeline of the many, many veterans that are using GI bill benefits to gain employment in their particular area.
“If we can spread the message on just a few of these steps, I’m confident that we will be able to continue to build on the success we have had in hiring veterans.
“Our veterans don’t ask for a lot and too often they are coming home and facing unnecessary stresses and struggles. We all need to work together to guarantee our nation’s heroes get a fair shot. That they are not measured by fear or stigma – but what they can do, what they have done, and what they will do.
“So thank you again for being here today and for this honor.
“I am proud to be your partner in the U.S. Senate and I look forward to continuing our work together on behalf of our nation’s heroes.”