The Obameter

Create a veterans job corps

"I want to create a veterans job corps, so we can put our returning heroes back to work as cops and firefighters in communities that need them."


Initiative hasn't gone far in Congress, but Obama is still pushing for it

During the 2012 presidential campaign, President Barack Obama promised to "create a veterans job corps, so we can put our returning heroes back to work as cops and firefighters in communities that need them."

When we looked at this pledge in mid-2013, we rated it Stalled, noting that the proposed $1 billion effort had floundered in Congress.

However, with the March 4, 2014, release of Obama's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, the idea is back.

The fiscal 2014 budget proposal includes $1 billion in "mandatory funding to create the Veterans Job Corps program," which would "put thousands of veterans back to work over the next five years protecting and rebuilding America."

The program would start with $50 million in funding for 2015, then roughly $238 million for each of the following four fiscal years.

Meanwhile, a related proposal would put veterans (and young people) to work under the National Parks Centennial Initiative. This would be a "Works Progress Administration (WPA)-like" effort to upgrade the National Park System for its 100th anniversary in 2016, along with improvements to national forests, refuges, and other public lands.

Because budgets are wish lists that are subject to revision -- and often outright rejection -- by Congress, this is far from a Promise Kept. In fact, recent history suggests that Congress has not inclined to support this particular proposal. Still, the fact that Obama has revived the proposal despite past difficulty in getting it enacted leads us to move the needle to In the Works.


Barack Obama, fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, March 4, 2014

Congress isn't going for Obama's veterans job corps plan

During his first term, President Obama proposed a $1 billion Veterans Job Corps that would have employed veterans on federal public lands projects and provided employment training.

While campaigning in the summer of 2012 he echoed those promises, but the effort died in the Senate before the November elections even occurred.

A similar bill had also been proposed in the House, but was referred to committee and died.

Obama has continued to promote veteran employment through other means, including the creation of a tax credit for employers who hire veterans, online jobs banks and employment counseling. He's also challenged companies to hire veterans through the Joining Forces initiative.

Despite these successes, Obama has made no subsequent attempt to create a program to employ veterans in public conservation work or in police and fire departments.

The most recent congressional incarnation of this proposal — the Veterans Conservation Corps Act of 2013, proposed by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. — was introduced last month but is still in committee.

By and large, Obama has upheld his campaign promises to veterans, but the creation of a job corps is one pledge that seems unlikely to be fulfilled any time soon. We rate this promise Stalled.


Los Angeles Times, "Republicans shelve Obama"s proposed Veterans Job Corps,” Sept. 19, 2012

Washington Post, "Bill to create Veterans Job Corps fails to advance,” Sept. 19, 2012

CBS News, "Obama signs bipartisan jobs bill for veterans,” July 10, 2012

The White House Blog, "First Lady Michelle Obama announces new hiring commitments for veterans and military spouses,” April 30, 2013, "S. 3457 (112th) Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012,” accessed July 19, 2013., "H.R. 6563 (112th) Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012,” accessed July 19, 2013.

Email interview with Ryan Brown, press secretary of Sen. Bill Nelson, July 22, 2013