- Initiative would involve Veterans Administration, Interior Department
- Grant money would be awarded to towns, fire departments that train and hire veterans
- Proposal's $5 billion price tag makes it a tough sell in Congress
The new so-called Veterans Jobs Corps initiative, first mentioned in the president's State of the Union address last week, involves partnerships with the Veterans Administration and the Interior Department, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies.
The president is scheduled to announce the new proposals during a speech at an Arlington, Virginia, firehouse.
But with a price tag of at least $5 billion, it's likely the new initiative will be met with stiff opposition in Congress.
Specifically, the administration will award $166 million in grant money to communities that show a preference of hiring post-9/11 veterans for new law enforcement positions. Meanwhile, $320 million in grant money will be awarded to various fire departments who pledge to hire and train new veterans.
The money for those grants has already been appropriated by Congress. But the president will seek an additional $4 billion in his upcoming budget to expand both programs. Congress rejected a similar proposal last fall that was part of the president's broader jobs initiative.
The president also will announce that his upcoming budget will include a $1 billion proposal to create as many as 20,000 new jobs for veterans relating to conservation efforts of America's federal and state public lands.
That initiative, to be overseen by the Department of Interior, would put veterans to work in visitor and tourism-related jobs as well as positions that will assist in general upkeep and maintenance roles throughout the country's public parks and nature preserves.
"These are common-sense initiatives to serve our 9/11 veterans who are coming home," Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told reporters on a conference call with reporters. "We hope Congress does its job (in approving the funding)."
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki also announced the president will propose expanding training programs for entrepreneurially focused veterans seeking to start their own businesses. This program would include online training seminars conducted by the Small Business Administration lasting as long as eight weeks and could service as many as 10,000 veterans annually, according to administration estimates.
"Our country owes them a debt of gratitude and we must ensure that veterans who come home from Afghanistan and Iraq get the opportunities they deserve," Shinseki said.
The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is 11.1%, more than 2 percentage points higher than the country's overall unemployment rate. Among the president's few jobs proposals to clear Congress last year were new tax credits for businesses that hire recent veterans.