Woodall Legislation to Expand Veteran Employment Opportunities Heads to President’s Desk
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, legislation introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (GA-07), and in the Senate by Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), received final approval in Congress before heading to the President’s desk for signature. The “Jobs for Our Heroes Act,” builds upon current law, the Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities (VETOPPS) Act, originally authored by Woodall and signed into law as part of the FAST Act in December of 2015 to remove regulatory barriers for military veterans continuing or beginning work in the trucking industry. Specifically, Woodall’s 2015 provision required the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Veterans Administration (VA) to develop a streamlined process for VA physicians to join the National Registry for Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME), which will save veterans time and money by allowing them to receive a DOT physical from their own VA healthcare team.
The DOT requires all commercial drivers to be examined by a health professional listed on the NRCME, and while there are more than 50,000 certified medical examiners (CME) nationwide, FMCSA found during their rulemaking that there were only 25 within the entire VA health system – a mere .0005%. This forced many veterans to look outside the VA for a medical professional eligible to perform the required physical, possibly having to pay out of pocket as well. The “Jobs for Our Heroes Act” further increases veterans’ access by allowing all qualified VA medical professionals, including advanced practice nurses and physician assistants, to provide physical examinations for veterans using the new streamlined process.
“This bill has always been about crafting a common sense, bipartisan solution that provides opportunities for our veterans returning to the civilian workforce as quickly as possible while also filling much-needed positions within the trucking industry,” said Rep. Woodall. “These kinds of seemingly small, targeted solutions may not always make the front page news, but they make a big difference in the lives of those affected. I’m proud to have led on this issue, and I am grateful to the constituent who first called me up to bring the problem to my attention, as well as to Senator Cornyn and all my colleagues who partnered with us to get this across the finish line for our veterans.”
“Rep. Woodall is a trusted voice on this Committee, and he continues to be a strong leader committed to improving employment opportunities for our Nation’s veterans, and to effective, commonsense government,” added House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster. “I commend him for his work on this legislation and in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s work to strengthen America’s infrastructure.”
From his speech on the Senate Floor, Senator Cornyn also added, “And I want to thank Congressman Rob Woodall who played a key role helping get this bill through the House. I hope with this bill signed into law, more members of our military will be able to utilize the skills they have acquired while in the military to qualify for well-paying jobs in our communities, and we continue to use our best efforts to keep faith with our veterans who have done so much for all of us.”
The High Points:
- The original Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities (VETOPPS) Act, brought together safety regulators, the VA, truck drivers, and veterans service organizations to craft a solution supported by both sides of the political aisle and was among the many positive reforms included in the Fast Act signed by the President in 2015.
- The DOT and the VA are now working together to implement the program so that VA physicians can become certified to conduct these DOT physicals without excessive financial and travel requirements.
- FMCSA estimates this will save each physician over $600, not to mention the time, money, and inconvenience saved by each veteran driver.
- The follow-up bill approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week would allow additional medical professionals in the VA system, such as advanced practice nurses and physician assistants, who are qualified for listing on the National Registry to use this new online training course within the VA system.
- At the time of the 2016 rulemaking, only 33% of certified medical examiners are medical doctors, so opening this program up to the other 67% of qualified medical professionals within the VA system will increase access and reduce wait times for veterans.
- Those supporting the measure include the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the American Academy of Physicians Assistants, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the American Legion.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.