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Military veterans to benefit from federal health training grants

Washington -- New White House initiatives are prodding medical schools to train military veterans for health care jobs and encouraging health centers to hire veterans. Universities and colleges that train veterans to be physician assistants will be given higher scores when applying for federal physician assistant training grants, according to an Oct. 25 announcement by the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of the Dept. of Health and Human Services. The move is part of White House efforts to connect veterans to jobs. "No veteran should have to fight for a job at home after they fight for our nation overseas," President Obama said on Nov. 7. "Our war fighters have been hit disproportionately hard by the economic downturn with unemployment rates that eclipse their non-military cohorts," said Bob Wallace, executive director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. The Obama administration also encouraged employers to list their job openings on a new database for veterans. The Veterans Job Bank will begin by listing more than 500,000 positions but will grow as employers expand the database, according to a Nov. 7 White House announcement. The American Medical Association will be one of the employers listing jobs on the database. The AMA "is pleased to participate as an employer in the administration's new Veterans Job Bank, and we encourage all physicians seeking employees to list their job openings there," said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD. "Connecting veterans to employment opportunities is one of the ways we can let the men and women of the Armed Forces know how much we appreciate their sacrifice." Community health centers on Oct. 25 pledged to hire at least 8,000 veterans -- approximately one for each health center in the U.S. -- in clinical, administrative and other positions, according to Tom Van Coverden, president and CEO of the National Assn. of Community Health Centers. Many veterans are attractive to hire because they know how to function in a larger organization, and many have a variety of technical and managerial skills that apply to health centers. "They understand what teamwork means," Van Coverden said. There were 22.5 million veterans in the U.S. in 2010, according to the Census Bureau. Congress has not yet adopted fiscal 2012 funding levels for physician assistant training grants, but HRSA provided $45 million in such grants in fiscal 2010 and 2011 through the national health system reform law, 2009 federal stimulus package and regular appropriations. Obama also challenged Congress to adopt another initiative, the Returning Heroes Tax Credit. It would provide businesses that hire unemployed veterans with a maximum credit of $5,600 per veteran or $9,600 for a veteran with a service-connected disability. The full and original article can be found at: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/11/07/gvsd1110.htm
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