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March 01, 2024

Crane Introduces Bipartisan ‘Hire Veterans Act’ to Fill Critical Land Management Vacancies

Today, Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ) and Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the Hire Veterans Act to employ American veterans while strengthening the federal skilled labor force, specifically at the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management.

Over the past decade, federal land management agencies have routinely faced staffing shortages, impacting their operational effectiveness. Notably, the U.S. Forest service has struggled to attract and retain staff, compounded by a noticeable gap in the experience and skill sets of candidates, affecting their capacity to address increasing wildfire threats.

The Hire Veterans Act comprehensively strengthens the federal skilled labor pipeline for veterans, streamlining the hiring process for veterans seeking to protect our natural resources.

Specifically, the bill establishes a five-year pilot program to direct federal land management agencies to conditionally appoint a veteran who has demonstrated the necessary skills and abilities for specific vacant positions at federal land management agencies.

The bill also directs the Office of Personnel Management, in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs and federal land management agencies, to submit an annual report to Congress, until the termination of the pilot program, on the effectiveness of the program.

“As a 13-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, I’m all too familiar with the obstacles servicemen and women face when transitioning to civilian life. I’m also well-aware of the challenges our federal land management agencies currently face, particularly in filling vacancies for firefighters, park rangers, and foresters,” said Rep. Crane.“With this bill, Congress has the opportunity to both streamline the employment process for veterans ANDbetter ensure that our natural resources are protected for future generations. I’m grateful to be able to introduce this legislation that serves our veterans while furthering the responsible stewardship of U.S. land.”

“Our veterans deserve workforce training and good-paying jobs when they return to civilian life, and Congress should ensure that is the case for all of our nation’s heroes,” said Rep. Levin. “Our bipartisan bill would expand opportunities for veterans and help connect them to jobs in federal land management agencies to care for our public lands and support their families. I’m glad to partner with Rep. Crane and Senators Braun and Sinema on this important bipartisan legislation and look forward to it moving in both chambers.”

Cosponsors of the legislation include Reps. Mary Miller (R-IL) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ).

A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ). The Senate legislation has received endorsements from Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.