Sent letter to Secretary McDonough regarding impact of vaccine mandate on veteran services, questioned VA officials on filling cybersecurity workforce shortage
WASHINGTON– As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC), U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) this week championed concerns of the veteran community including the impact of vaccine mandates on the quality of care provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) and employment opportunities made available for veterans as they transition to civilian life.
On Wednesday, Senator Tuberville signed on to a letter to the VA Secretary Denis McDonough requesting data to determine the impact the federal vaccine mandate will have on the VA’s ability to provide health care to veterans should VA employees who elect not to get the COVID-19 vaccine be terminated. In part, the letter states, “With the November 22, 2021, vaccination deadline for all other VA employees approaching, Congress must assess the impact this policy is having on the ability for veterans to receive care and benefits from VA. We continue to encourage veterans, their families, and those that care for them to protect themselves from COVID-19 through vaccination, but we must ensure that VA has the capacity to continue to care for veterans.”
Additionally, in a SVAC hearing focused on success after service, Senator Tuberville questioned Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations and Management, Margarita Devlin, and VA Deputy Under Secretary for Policy and Oversight, Ronald Burke, Jr., on the gap in the nation’s cybersecurity workforce, specifically referencing the large amount of defense contractors in Alabama and the need for high-skilled veterans to transition their experience to the cyber industry. Excerpts from Senator Tuberville’s remarks can be found below, and viewed here.
TUBERVILLE: “In Alabama, one out of every ten residents is a veteran, so it’s important to me that the opportunities available to veterans, both in education and employment, are known and amplified. I’m focused on the gap in the nation’s cybersecurity workforce. I think people coming straight out of the service, who are likely already trained in some kind of cyber, could easily begin to fill this vulnerability. We have 5,000 defense contractors alone in the state of Alabama. Ft. Rucker moves 600 service members through [the transition assistance program] each year. How can the overall transition process be better leveraged to provide a seamless pipeline to get more veterans into cybersecurity?”
DEVLIN: “…We have a pilot program called the Employment Navigator and Partnership Pilot Program. What that program is helping us to do…is to provide that one on one, technical, specialized assistance. It will help us work with that service member to help us look at their unique skills, their abilities, their interests, and pair them up with the right occupations, and pair them with partners that can help focus on industries such as cyber…we recognize the high impact and high need in cyber security, so we’re definitely taking a look at that.”
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.