’Please don’t leave our veterans behind,’ Veterans call for passage of the Heroes Act

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 8:04 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska is home to many current service members and veterans. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Alaska is home to about 6,500 state and local government workers who are veterans. This accounts for about 10% of the workforce in those sectors.

Friday morning a group of veterans met via media call to discuss the importance of HR 6800 (The HEROES Act) for veterans. The bill responds to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses. The bill also modifies or expands a wide range of other programs and policies, including those regarding veterans’ benefits.

“We have to get this done. It is not enough to say you support our troops, you support our veterans. It’s time for us to actually do it. Provide the funding and relief that is absolutely necessary to get this done and make sure our veterans taking care of,” said Congressman Jason Crow (D-CO), Iraq and Afghanistan veteran.

Currently, eyes are on the U.S Senate to vote on the bill. The House has already passed it.

“This aid is going to be very important because I see that, I do work with our veterans, if those services were caught off then they’ll not be able to get the services that they need,” said Dawn Bundick, Investigator for the Alaska Department of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.

Bundick is a United States Navy Reserves veteran.

Everyone on the call expressed the “urgent need for state and local aid to protect veteran jobs and essential public services.”

“We have over a million veterans that utilize SNAP as a benefit and to think that the people I served with, who fought for our country, and dedicated the many years of their lives to serve this nation are fearful that they are going to lose the benefits needed to provide food for themselves and their families, it keeps me up at night,” said William Attig, Union Veteran’s Council Executive Director.

Last week a Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a hearing on the bill.

“This is not a red or blue issue. Our leaders must make sure that public service works have the resources and PPE we need to do our jobs and keep our community safe and healthy. I’m asking that the Senate take a stand for American communities and for millions of veterans who work in the public service and depend on public services to make ends met,” said Bundick.

Thursday it was reported that more than 1.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, and like many states, Alaska is feeling the hit of COVID-19 to the economy.

According to a new report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alaska’s unemployment rate doubled from 6.2% in June of 2019, to 12.4% in June of 2020. Anchorage saw an even higher jump, from 5.3% in June 2019, to 12% in June 2020.

“Please don’t leave our veterans behind,” said Bundick.

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