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Pelosi Instructs House to Hire Wounded War Vets

The House will have more wounded veterans working among its ranks within the next year if Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard is able to pull off an ambitious plan.

Beard hopes to develop a program that would match wounded veterans with House jobs by March 1.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent Beard a letter Wednesday directing him to start the process, a tall order because some 7,000 of the House’s 10,000 jobs are in individual Members’ offices, which do their own hiring.

“It really came about rather quickly,” Beard said. “We have to find ways we can get the names and skills and the needs of Members and match that up with wounded veterans.”

Beard came up with the idea after sitting down with a lobbyist for the Marine Corps and the commander of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, a group that helps wounded veterans retrain for a new military job or for a private-sector career. At first hoping to simply offer up jobs in his office, Beard quickly moved to considering job possibilities in the entire House.

“The more they talked, the more it made sense,” he said. “We have jobs here in the House. We have all kind of jobs.”

Now Beard has the support of Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.), who also signed the letter.

The Members called for a program for “severely wounded veterans,” a term Beard said means those who have long-term injuries, such as a missing limb, and can’t return to the front lines.

The letter does not lay out any specifics — neither setting hiring goals nor even dictating when the program must start.

But the vision, at least, is grand.

“[W]e would like the U.S. House of Representatives to serve as a model for the rest of the nation,” read the letter to Beard. “Accordingly, we are directing you to develop, in conjunction with other House officers and offices, a career orientation program that will give severely wounded service men and women the opportunity to consider employment by the House of Representatives.”

Beard said he will be looking at existing programs in state and federal agencies as he works to develop a plan in the next few months. The Virginia Department of Transportation, for example, has a program that locates internships for veterans undergoing rehabilitation, while the Department of Defense’s “Hire a Hero” program holds job fairs and helps wounded veterans adapt their military skills to civilian jobs.

Since nothing like this has been done in the House, Beard said he isn’t sure how the program would work. But he hopes it will be more than just letting wounded veterans know that jobs are available — for example, it might give them preferential treatment. It’s not Beard’s decision alone. He also will have to work with Members.

“To me, what’s historic here is that the Speaker has made it very clear she wants us to lead the nation, to show leadership for the nation,” he said. “All the other employers in the United States ought to be hiring wounded veterans.”