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Better Service for Those Who Served

Secretary of Labor Tom Perez talks with veterans while touring the Arlington American Jobs Center with Rich Cordray, CFPB Director and Holly Petraeus, CFPB's Office of Service member Affairs.

Secretary of Labor Tom Perez talks with veterans while touring the Arlington, Virginia, American Jobs Center with CFPB Director  Rich Cordray, and CFPB’s Office of Service Member Affairs Holly Petraeus.

One of the most important functions of the Labor Department is what I like to call our function – we connect Americans seeking opportunity with employers looking to expand their businesses. In the process, we help people punch their ticket to the middle class.

Much of this work is done in the 2,500 American Jobs Centers located in communities nationwide. The centers provide a single access point where job-seekers can get all the services they need to get back to work, from job leads and resume assistance, to career counseling and access to training.

Returning service members receive priority service at these centers, where they enjoy access to at least two professionals dedicated solely to their service.

But punching your ticket to the middle class is about more than getting the job. To achieve real economic security, many people also need some guidance on how to manage the money they’re making. Transitioning veterans have unique challenges in that space – because when you’re on active duty, you might not have the same experience judging compensation packages…or you may not have been exposed to different benefits options. Even with completion of our Transition Assistance Program prior to their separation from the military, servicemembers and their spouses still need specially tailored financial advice.

That’s why the Labor Department has joined forces with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to launch a new initiative providing financial coaching to veterans. At 35 AJC sites nationwide, we will better serve those who’ve served us by providing them with a credentialed financial coach who has an understanding of the veteran community, military families and the challenges they face. These professionals will provide one-on-one free coaching to help them craft a personalized plan for financial success.

I was pleased to join CFPB Director Rich Cordray today at the American Jobs Center in Arlington, Virginia, to kick off this initiative, which provides a perfect example of the kind of unprecedented collaboration we’re forging throughout the federal government.

It’s also just one of a number of efforts to ensure financial security for service members. The Department of Defense, for example, has proposed new regulations under the Military Lending Act to better protect active duty service members and their families from excessive debt. The proposal would reduce predatory lending practices, close loopholes in current rules and help ensure critical consumer protections for military families. You can read more about that effort here.

Serving veterans isn’t the responsibility of just one agency; It’s a holistic and cross-cutting mission, an all-hands-on-deck effort involving resources and programs from several departments, all of whom must work together seamlessly. We need to implode the stovepipes that create bureaucratic inefficiencies, so we can provide the best possible services to the most people.

Veterans don’t have discrete VA challenges, or DOL challenges or CFPB challenges. They just have challenges, and it’s up to all of us to work together to meet them.

I’m excited about this program and look forward to seeing the fruits of its success.

Follow Secretary Perez on Twitter @LaborSec

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