Schiff Introduces Veterans Crisis Response Corps Act

Legislation Would Establish New VetCorps Agency to Match Veterans with Service Opportunities

Washington D.C. – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced the Veterans Crisis Response Corps Act to establish a new independent federal agency, “VetCorps,” with the mission of matching veterans with a desire and ability to serve with crisis response events, hazard mitigation, infrastructure construction and improvement, and other projects at home and abroad.

“This bill will help keep our commitment to veterans by providing training, employment opportunities, and a new way to serve for millions who served our country in uniform,” said Rep. Schiff. “Many veterans possess specialized skills, ranging from medical training to logistics to specialized engineering, skills that are particularly valuable to agencies coordinating disaster response or reconstruction.” 

Of the 22 million veterans across the United States, approximately 4 million have left the military since September 11, 2001. While the aggregate unemployment rate for veterans has steadily declined since 2011, the unemployment rate hovers around 4.5% for those veterans who served since 2001. That statistic, however, paints only part of the picture. Over one-third of employed veterans are underemployed, working in jobs for which they are overqualified.

Several federal agencies, including FEMA, already use veterans to provide “surge capacity” following natural disasters or other rapid response situations, including the hurricanes that struck Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico in 2017. USAID has similarly utilized veterans to provide disaster relief overseas during the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and the “four famines” in South Sudan, Yemen, northern Nigeria and Somalia in 2017. There are also non-profits that send teams of veterans to respond to natural disasters in the United States and abroad.

This legislation would expand on these concepts by establishing VetCorps with the mission of matching veterans with a desire and ability to serve with crisis response, hazard mitigation, infrastructure, and other projects that can utilize their skillsets. The Corps would consist of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who have agreed to make themselves available for voluntary “deployments” of up to one year. Much like members of the National Guard, they would be subject to training requirements to be eligible for projects, receive health care and pay while activated, and would benefit from employment protections while deployed on a VetCorps project.

With assistance from a coordinating council of federal agencies, the Director of the Corps would identify appropriate projects, and activate teams of members of the Corps, on a voluntary basis, to fill unmet essential needs.

“There is no questioning the toughness, ingenuity, and dedication of veterans – they are a hugely valuable national resource,” continued Schiff. “VetCorps will help create new service opportunities for their benefit and the benefit of the nation.”