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Obama Unveils Jobs Plan During Arlington Visit

by Katie Pyzyk February 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm 4,835 47 Comments

President Obama chose Arlington’s Fire Station No. 5 (1750 S. Hayes St) as the place to deliver a speech about the creation of a new Veterans Jobs Corps.

Around 11:30 a.m. the President arrived at the fire station via motorcade and took the stage to announce his new $1 billion initiative, which he highlighted during the State of the Union address last month. The program particularly targets veterans who have served since 9/11 — a group whose unemployment rate is currently hovering around 13 percent.

“Our veterans are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we’ve got,” said the President. “These are Americans that every business should be competing to attract.”

Under the initiative, 20,000 veterans will be put to work over the next five years on a Veterans Job Corps conservation program, which will “restore our great outdoors by providing visitor programs, restoring habitat, protecting cultural resources, eradicating invasive species, and operating facilities,” according to the White House. The corps will also “repair and rehabilitate trails, roads, levees, recreation facilities and other assets.”

In addition to the Veterans Job Corps, the president announced that he will seek $5 billion in funding to boost local police and firefighter hiring. Preference for those jobs would be given to post-9/11 veterans.

“Let’s get more cops on the beat. Let’s gets more rangers in the parks. Let’s get more firefighters on call,” Obama said today. “And, in the process, we’re going to put more veterans back to work. It’s good for our communities, it’s good for our economy, and it’s good for our country.”

The president explained that in addition to contributing to the overall good of communities, there will be specific financial benefits for taking part in the initiative.

“Today, we’re announcing that communities who make it a priority to recruit veterans will be among the first in line when it comes to getting help from the federal government,” the president said.

A number of roads shut down between Pentagon City and Crystal City to accommodate the presidential visit. Other impacts were also evident, such as increased police and fire presence at Pentagon City mall, the closure of Aurora Highlands Park and the late opening of the Aurora Hills Library. Arlington County Police helped with diverting pedestrians and controlling traffic while roads were shut down.

President Obama made special mention of the firefighters from Fire Station No. 5 during the speech, noting they were some of the first responders on 9/11 when the Pentagon was attacked. He also spoke about one of the Arlington firefighters in attendance, Lt. Jacob Johnson, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. After his short speech, Obama shook hands and briefly chatted with some of the firefighters and other guests in attendance.

Once the presidential motorcade departed just before noon, roads quickly reopened.

  • Anne

    “Our veterans are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we’ve got,” said the President. “These are Americans that every business should be competing to attract.”
    So let’s put them to work doing manual labor in our parks and recreation areas. Really? Does that really make sense? At least the WPA used the skills of its labor force for public art and not just weeding and gardening. Sorry, I must be missing something here.

    • Elmer

      Three years into his term: Now he’s discovered vets unemployment and wants to throw a couple billion dollars at it.
      Can you spell pandering?

    • geebee

      The WPA encompassed all sorts of jobs – in the arts, yes, but also in construction, roads, water conservation, agriculture, and, yes, parks. Central to it was the idea that working was better than not, and that work provided real momentum to a moribund economy. The WPA helped pry us from the grips of depression. It’s hard to travel anywhere in the US without seeing its lasting effects in roads, libraries, dams, artwork, and, yes…(drumroll, please)…parks.

    • drax

      That’s not what he said. He didn’t say they shouldn’t try to get “better” jobs. But this beats unemployment.

  • Burger

    Seems like a great invest. What other business in the world can spend $50,000 a position to get someone hired. I mean seriously why not just hand them 50K and let them start their own business.

    • Burger

      To add on my own post…the real cost is higher given the natural inefficiencies that will arise to oversee the program, the fraud and abuse that will naturally occur and interest on the further debt necessary to run the program.

      Not saying it is a worthy goal but there has to be more efficient uses of money.

      • Southeast Jerome

        The debt doesnt really matter tho does it?

        If it did, would the Govt be able to borrow at 2% for 10yrs or for 3.15% for 30yrs?

        Its gotta be viewed as a trade off. More Govt spending now when the private sector isnt quite healed yet (and when can be done so super cheap!) to kick start the economy.

        Its getting harder to argue with the amount of jobs added in the last 3 months. The debt will matter when the market forces the hand of congress but that wont happen until the economy is generating sufficient tax revenues to start paying it off.

        Since we can always print more money to pay the debt, we wont have a “greece situation” here. Anyone saying that is using scare tactics on people that arent educated. Mainly the Right. Its not a valid argument.

      • Josh S

        I don’t understand either of your posts. What other business can spend $50K to get someone hired? Doesn’t the figure sited include salary support? In which case, $50K is pretty average?
        Hand them 50K to start their own business? How many people WANT to start their own business? How do you start a business in fire fighting or policing? What percentage of new businesses fail within 5 years? (Hint: it’s a lot.) Besides there are already government programs that support the development of new businesses.
        Fraud and abuse are hardly unique to the public sector – plenty in the private sector as well.

        • thecharlesriver

          Nobody understands your posts either….so you two have something in common.

    • Charlie

      Then someone would call it an “Entitlement.” This way – everyone wins . . .

  • Wayne Kubicki

    On the Vets’ Job Corps proposal – if the ARLnow reporter has it right, it’s a $1B proposal, for a five-year period, that will put 20K vets to work. Even if it ALL went to salary, that’s $10K per year per job. Am I missing something?

    On the $5B for local firefighters & police, this sounds like the Clinton administration proposal for putting more cops on the street. The Feds will pay for the positions for X number of years – but then, when the money runs out, the localities have to bear the whole cost (or terminate the positions).

    Similar actions that were part of the first Obama stimulus package didn’t work – now the President wants to double-down. Sheesh!

    • Charlie

      Says who?

  • nota gain

    This only applies to the Post 911 veterans. What about the Viet Nam era vets who are out of jobs as well.
    BO has been trying to gain voters with his on the spot speeches this past week.
    I was amazed that religion was not part of this speech.

    • KalashniKEV

      As far as I know, this applies to all veterans.

  • JimPB

    We should help Vets succeed in the civilian world. And we should do so effectively and with cost-efficiency. So let’s have relevant data, e.g.:

    First — how do Vets compare in finding work and with what kind of jobs to similar persons (IQ, educational achievement, etc.) who are not Vets.

    Second — what specific skills from their military service can Vets take to civilian jobs, and how important are those skills to success in the civilian jobs.

    Third — what adverse effects from their military service do at least some
    Vets to the civilian world, beginning with PTSD.

    Fourth — what factors contribute to employers choosing a civilian candidate over a candidate whose only significance is that (s)he is a Vet? How might these liabilities be addressed meaningfully?

    • Elmer

      JimPB, Why ask sensible questions? You are expecting too much of Pres O.
      Just throw money at the problem.

    • Jerry

      Sensible, not very political, tho.

    • mickey644

      First: All officers are college graduates and most senior officers have at least one graduate degree. Most all of the enlisted men and women have a high school education and over 50% have a college degree. Most officers and enlisted in technical fields are trained technicians in Nuclear propulsion, mechanics, engineering, computers, etc. Match THOSE stats with the civilian applicants!

      Second: Any job that you can do they can do better. They work 10-12+ hour days and many times 6-7 days a week so they understand worth ethic. They have no unions and don’t want or need one.

      Third: Don’t insult the majority of military men and women. I have seen my fill of suicides, bums, and other such in the Ballston area which I NEVER saw in over 23 years of service.

      Fourth: “only significance is a vet?” You are a shame to your country!

      • Josh S

        I imagine that the majority of military men and women are stable individuals. Just like the majority of civilians. However, we seem to be hearing more and more about the growing rate of PTSD, etc in veterans. I do wonder how this compares to the rate of similar mental health issues in civilians.

        As to your second point, I think you have made a gross generalization. Any job I can do, they can do better? No, not exactly. Any job I can do can be done better by someone, somewhere. I am not so arrogant as to deny that. But to claim that just because someone had a uniform on at some point in their life means they are more capable than someone who did not have a uniform on? Sorry, I don’t buy that.

        Your first point refers to officers. Which is a nice self-selected subcategory of veterans, isn’t it? Sure, officers are generally highly educated. But aren’t they a small minority of the total population of vets? Also, the military culture tends to be quite different than many job cultures in the civilian world. I wouldn’t automatically assume a vet to be more qualified than any other candidate for the job who had similar education and experience levels. Also, I suspect that JimPB was referring to the many jobs in the armed forces that have limited applications in the civilian world.

        • thecharlesriver

          Sounds a bit defensive to me….So angry….

      • dk

        I don’t think Jim PB meant to be offensive. I think just the opposite–that he is wondering: if there is a problem with vets finding employment, what is the root (or roots) of that problem? You’ve said that vets are qualified for almost any job, and generally more qualified than their civilian counterparts. So how come they aren’t getting jobs?

        No matter how well they are trained, do they lack training in the skills that employers seek (as opposed to skills the military seeks–they might not be the same)? Could they actually be *over-trained* for available jobs?

        Are they not looking for jobs in the right industries? That is, are there heretofore unidentified industries where their skills might be a good fit? Are they not looking in the geographic areas where jobs are available?

        Are certain types of vets having particular difficulties? For example, I can imagine that there are military jobs that don’t translate well to civilian life. Or maybe it is vets with physical or psychological issues stemming from their service who are having the most problems finding employment?

        Are employers aware that vets are a good source of labor? Are they seeking out vets? Avoiding them? If so, why?

        There is nothing offensive about these questions and others like them. You have to know the answers if you want to have any hope of solving the problem.

  • KalashniKEV

    “Let’s gets more Rangers in the parks.”

    God help the first litterbug once this plan goes into effect!!!


    • RangerRick
    • drax

      So how do you feel about Obama’s proposal, Kev? Don’t you just hate socialist entitlement jobs programs?

      • KalashniKEV

        Well I’m of course against social programs… unless they happen to benefit my special little minority group. (hahaha… j/k)

        I honestly think it’s kind of an odd proposal… to employ veterans as firefighters and in conservation projects? Did he spin some kind of gameshow wheel to select these occupations??

        I don’t see how this is any different than what has been taking place for many years with ACAP. There are lots of government recruiters that you are required to at least look at before you can get your DD214. So he’s going to give preference in grants competition to communities that hire more veteran firefighters? Feeding one scam with another- that’s the Chicago Way! (lol)

        Also, this is not going to do anything to stimulate the economy because although these jobs are “real” in a sense they are paying a wage, what about when all the trails are litter free? This kind of short term spending program without any connection to business is a formula for fail. These government jobs are not “real” jobs.

        Lastly, Veterans do not need 5-strikes-at-bat like other protected classes seem to live by. We are the .4%!

        • drax

          “Well I’m of course against social programs… unless they happen to benefit my special little minority group. ”

          Some refreshing honesty.

          Here’s another government program for vets that should make you squirm:


          The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking decisive action to end Veteran homelessness in five years. All Veterans at risk for homelessness or attempting to exit homelessness must have easy access to programs and services. VA offers a variety of resources, programs, and benefits…

          • KalashniKEV

            “Some refreshing honesty.”

            j/k meant “just kidding.”

            I guess you didn’t read my whole post either. Vets don’t need the bar lowered, or any extra special consideration. The .4% will prosper when all Americans do- as soon as we have a qualified leader as president who can get us back on the right track. (who knows when that will be!)

          • drax

            So you oppose all job preferences for vets, including the ones currently in federal hiring? (And you don’t speak for all vets.)

            And you didn’t tell us how you feel about the homeless vet initiative either. But that was just to remind you that some homeless are vets.

          • KalashniKEV

            I oppose all intervention that perverts the forces of the market. In a perfect world, the most qualified candidate will always get the job. No extra 5 points for the color of your skin, plus an extra 2 points for being a Veteran, plus 10 for being Service Disabled…

            That being said, I don’t make the rules to this Evil game, the government does. I will of course take advantage of every opportunity to WIN. Just as the competition will…

          • Josh S

            Reminds me of Emilio Estevez’s dad in the Breakfast Club…

            Sorry, couldn’t find a suitable clip.

            Perhaps the recent association between Charlie Sheen and the word WINNING played a role in this random association….

  • Arlingtonian

    Hmmm … is this based off of a similar plan that Teddy Roosevelt once enacted? If so, I recall reading in a history magazine or book that the plan went off quite well and was well-received. I just can’t recall the exact specifics of who Roosevelt’s Rangers were – they may have been young civilian men he recruited and not veterans.

  • Blue

    What happens to us police officers with years of experience but who aren’t veterans? I get to go to the end of the line if I want make a career change?

    • KalashniKEV

      Call your government employee Union rep… I’m sure they can cook up a scam to lower the bar for you. Who knows, they might even be glad to hear that you want to make a career change!

  • ArlingtonWay

    Relax there, Kojak As you know, Arlington cops are hired to enforce HOV, give tickets for no PPT stickers, run speed traps. That is, you are a tax collector. There will always be a place for you in Arlington.

    • thecharlesriver

      And you would be the first to call them and scream like a little girl when you need someone to fight your battles….so relax there, spanky.

      • Jason S.

        Would he? And how do you know this?

        • thecharlesriver

          Yeah. He would…tough guy. 😉

      • ArlingtonWay

        The only person screaming like a little girl in my house, Chuck, is your Mom. Wink.

        • thecharlesriver

          Good one Spanky…I think you should stick with bashing the cops from behind your keyboard. lol

        • thecharlesriver

          Oh and my mother passed away. But you’re such a MAN.

          • Jason S.

            Yes, everybody does that once.

          • thecharlesriver

            Very angry under all your names I see.

          • ArlingtonWay

            Who says I’m a man, Chuck? Maybe you didn’t know Mom as well as you think!

          • thecharlesriver

            Who says you’re a human being, is the better question?

      • KalashniKEV

        “fight your battles”

        Interesting choice of words… If I may steer this back on track, I believe this goes back to the notion that some people who refuse to take responsibility for their own health and safety actually expect a LEO to be within earshot when they scream for help, and to intervene INSTANTLY.

        I’ve always found this quite bizarre… do they expect him to be waiting in the closet or something?

        • thecharlesriver

          Yeah. Isn’t everybody supposed to have a cop-on-demand? They are supposed to be there at the clap of their self-entitled hands….EXCEPT when they happen to commit a traffic offense…and then they should be someplace else.

  • FedNeedsVets

    I’ve always been amazed at the number of veterans I’ve talked to who do not know about the different hiring authorities/tools such as, veteran’s preference, the Veterans Recruitment Appointment Authority (VRA), and the Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA), used to appoint veterans to federal government positions. Civilian Personnel Management (HR Executives and Managers) within DOD needs to be more proactive and partner with the military and civilian DOD leaders to ensure that veterans receive more information and better education about these authorities when out-processing from active duty. Civilian personnel offices at various DOD installations could also provide a resume writing workshop for out-processing veterans. Each veteran should be aware of the eligibility and documentation requirements concerning veteran’s preference, VRA, and VEOA. Also, the VA uses national TV ads as a recruiting tool. While they’re at it, why don’t they have a little statement at the conclusion of the commercial that says something like “Veterans who meet eligibility requirements may be appointed to federal government positions, competitively or non-competitively, through veterans preference and other veteran hiring authorities. Please go to this website for more information on veterans preference and hiring authorities used to place vets. In federal employee jobs.”?


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