SACRAMENTO, CA – Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) today announced legislation that would assist Veterans of the United States Armed Forces that participate in the California Conservation Corps (CCC) to efficiently transition to employment after completion of the program. Senate Bill 1227, the California VET (Veteran Employment & Training) Program, would require the CCC to collaborate with the California Department of Veterans Affairs, in addition to Employment Development Department (EDD), to better assist corps members who are Veterans.
“These brave women and men fought for us, it’s time that we fight for them,” said Senator Lara. “By ensuring a smooth transition from corps membership into jobs, we are making good on our promise as a state to stand up for our Veterans and help them succeed after their brave service to this country.”
The CCC was created by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 1976, employing young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 for a year. The work is primarily outdoors and structured toward maintaining California’s natural resources by planting trees, improving fish habitat, building trails, in addition to improving parks and recreation areas. Corps participants also assist with emergency response situations such as fighting fires, floods, earthquakes and pest infestations. To date over 120,000 individuals have participated in the program. According to a report by the California Research Bureau, male Veterans between the ages of 18-24 have a higher unemployment rate at 20.4 percent compared to their civilian peers at 16.4 percent. Within the same report, female Veterans under the age of 34 also have higher unemployment rates than their civilian peers at 11.6 percent, compared to 8.3 percent.
Although transition services for corps members are in place, the statute is silent regarding corps members who are Veterans. Veterans participating in the program have access to the current support services, but the unique characteristics attributed to a Veterans experience such as; the difference is work culture between military and civilian life and Veterans who have been through multiple combat deployments, may not be fully addressed through the EDD and CCC’s employment efforts, thus presenting a gap in transitional services for Veterans participating within the CCC.
“This measure is about standing up for our veterans and ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed,” added Lara.