Ohio Veterans Training Conference - Speech
Frederico Juarbe Jr.
Ohio Veterans Training Conference
April 23, 2002
Thank you Carl for that introduction. Its good to be back in Americas heartland.
Good afternoon everyone. Its a pleasure for me to join you for you annual veterans training conference.
And I mean that sincerely, never mind what you may have been reading or hearing about whats going on with VETS.
I have been an advocate for veterans most of my adult life. And I sincerely believe that all those experiences were preparing me for the assignment President Bush has given me.
I am proud to be the assistant secretary of the Veterans Employment and Training Service in 2002.
Working together, we have a distinct but limited window of opportunity to build a better employment and training system that will provide 21st century services to 21st century veterans.
When Joe Andry invited me to participate in this conference, I knew it would be an opportunity to give you an update on legislative and program activities. And theres a lot going on.
But more importantly, it would give me the opportunity to listen and learn from our most important partners; the men and women who serve veterans where they live and work; men and women whose dedication to their work is the critical ingredient to helping veterans find quality employment.
You are on the front lines of service delivery for veterans seeking employment and training assistance.
You get the job done day in and day out. You know your mission. You are committed to your mission. You live your mission everyday.
I want to express my sincere thanks to all of you for helping VETS work to the benefit of veterans.
I want to extend a special thanks to Ray Pryor for his exceptional work in helping make Ohios certification and licensing pilot project a success. We have learned valuable best practices from this program. What you have accomplished in Ohio will help us build similar programs in other states.
It gives added meaning to the old political phrase As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.
Without your dedicated service, we could not fulfill our national mandate to provide our veterans with the programs and services they so richly deserve.
I want to take a few minutes to give you my vision of how we can work with you to make that relationship stronger.
The dedicated men and women who have served in our armed forces have given to this nation a high level of service as they have stood freedom's watch around the world.
In return, this nation must strive to provide them with the rights and benefits as well as the programs and services they have so proudly earned.
This means the best training for quality careers with excellent pay and benefits for veterans and their families.
intend to make judicious and effective use of all our resources, involving all our stakeholders in all aspects of the agency 's mission, and modernize and make the agency's operations, regulations, and programs more responsive to the needs of veterans.
It will be my goal to keep the lines of communication open with our state partners so that together we can form the cornerstone of a quality service delivery system.
Finally, I intend to be candid and responsive to all our constituencies.
This philosophy mirrors the principles that have guided me throughout my professional career of serving America's most deserving citizens: veterans and their families.
I believe every veteran who looks to the public employment service system to find a good job deserves to have a better life.
Now let me share with you my priorities for 2002, priorities that I have shared with every member of VETS staff.
VETS will become a better partner with the states by focusing on outreach and technical assistance.
In short, I intend to take the coach approach.
At the top of my 10 most wanted list is developing and fostering a climate of trust and confidence between states and VETS field staff, particularly in terms of transparency, meaningful partnering, and prompt action in response to state concerns.
I intend that VETS extend its full cooperation with our state partners to resolve reporting issues and in implementing new state performance measures.
In particular, I desire to see a focused effort to negotiate more accurate and reasonable standards that take into account the new states reporting systems and environmental conditions.
In no way do I believe that one standard or measure or way of doing business fits the realities of every state.
We must become more sensitive to the particular needs of each state and the citizens it serves and work with you to ensure that our programs best meet the needs of your veterans.
I cannot emphasize to you too strongly that I firmly believe that the quality of the VETS/state relationship bears directly on the quality of programs and services that we can provide to our nations veterans.
Next month, VETS will be holding a national training conference in Denver. I intend to use that venue to remind all our staff that we are doing business in new and better ways.
So what does this mean for VETS in the long run?
As we all know, the future is not yet decided.
One of the ways we are looking to improve the quality and delivery of employment and training programs is contained in the President's fiscal year 2003 budget.
It would transfer funding for the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program, the Local Veterans Employment Representatives, and the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project grants from the Department of Labor to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This transfer as part of the President's overall strategy to better serve citizens by increasing the effectiveness and accountability of all government programs. It is designed to reduce duplication of effort and strengthen these services to veterans by putting them all under the roof of an agency devoted to addressing the needs of veterans.
The Administrations proposal reflects the core principles of competitive, performance-based funding as the best way to improve services to veterans.
We have been in continuous coordination on this initiative since last December with assistance from the Office of Management and Budget.
I expect the Administrations bill to be submitted soon.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee has also prepared a bill HR 4015.
Both proposals are focused on the same goal: to remove the legislative roadblocks that have tied veterans employment and training programs and services to the past.
Thats why I am confident that the process which we have embarked on will yield positive results which will benefit veterans for years to come.
I believe that when we have the benefit of discussing each of the proposals, when all options are considered, veterans will, in the end, benefit.
But no matter how this legislative proposal plays out in the coming months, VETS has an important mission to carry out this year, right now, for every veteran seeking employment and training services.
Thats where you come in.
I need to hear from you on all issues of mutual concern.
It is through clear, candid, and continuous dialogue that we will improve our working relationships, develop better programs and services, and thereby better serve all Americas veterans.
It is a major challenge but one from which we must not retreat.
With your prayers and your active involvement, I know we will succeed.
God bless you all and God bless America.