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Oct 25 - Obama Administration Announces Action to Lower Monthly Student Loan Payments, Hire Vets

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Changes for Veterans to Help Them Find Jobs in Health Care and Logistics
SDN Staff Report
Oct 25, 2011 – The Obama Administration announced a series of executive orders Tuesday afternoon that will allow current students in U.S. colleges and universities who will graduate beginning in 2012 to cap their student loans at 10% of their discretionary income instead of the 15% cap that was set to take place in 2014.
And for all other students who are current on their loans - not delinquent or in default on existing loans - a new Executive Order by President Barach Obama will allow students with mutiple Pell Grants and other Federal loans to consolidate the loans into one payment and cut their interest rates by as much as 1/2 percent.
Additionally, loan balances not paid off within 20 years will be forgiven under his Executive Order.
The White House held an 'on the record' press conference Tuesday afternoon in advance of Obama's speech tomorrow in Denver where he will announce the student loan program changes.
The announcement is part of a series of executive actions that the President has announced he is undertaking to help put Americans back to work and strengthen the economy because he states that he can’t wait for Congressional Republicans to act.  The President has explained that he has asked his Cabinet members to propose anything that he can do to help the economy and create jobs that does not require Congressional action.
Obama has taken the position that a majority of Republican members of Congress are more focused on defeating him in November 2012 than crafting and passing legislation to address the jobs crisis, the high levels of unemployment, the uncertainty over residential and commercial property values and general uncertainty in the U.S. banking industry.
The details of the student loan program changes were provided by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes.
Changes for Vets
According to the President,  "Military medics are on the front lines everyday saving lives; they are the battlefield’s first responders.  Yet many military medics who want to work as nurses, physician assistants or in other health care jobs when they leave the military, are often not given credit or credentials for the skills they developed while serving."
Today, the Obama Administration announced two new initiatives to help create jobs for veterans, part of his Executive actions, challenging Community Health Centers to hire 8,000 veterans – approximately one veteran per health center site – over the next three years. "The health reform law provides funding for community health centers to serve more Americans and hire more workers.  Additionally, HHS will ask centers to start reporting on the number of veterans that they employ.  The Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs will work together to connect veterans to the health clinics’ job openings.  The National Association of Community Health Centers will also contribute to this effort and joined the Administration in announcing this Community Health Center Veterans Hiring Challenge," according to the White House.
"Health centers improve the health of the nation and assure access to quality primary health care services at more than 8,000 service delivery sites around the country.  They are also an integral source of local employment and economic growth in many underserved and low-income communities.  Thanks in part to support from the Affordable Care Act, since the beginning of 2009, health centers across the country have added more than 18,600 new full-time positions in many of the nation’s most economically distressed communities.  In 2010, they employed more than 131,000 staff, including veterans who serve as Physician Assistants, Administrators, Pharmacy Directors, outreach workers, eligibility assistance workers, and patient support staff and health center CEOs. Veterans who are committed to serving their country and their communities are well suited to serve in a number of capacities at community health centers.
"To fast-track medics into jobs in community health centers and other parts of the health care system, today the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) pledged to open up career-paths beyond nursing and expand opportunities for veterans to become physician assistants.  Through this initiative, HRSA will begin to give priority in physician assistant grant awards to universities and colleges that help train veterans for careers as physician assistants.  Through the Affordable Care Act, Recovery Act, and appropriations in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, $45 million has been invested to support accredited physician assistant training programs.  Currently, there are 57 active physician assistant training grants.
And, to expand the number of training programs that accommodate veterans, the Administration also will identify model programs that offer expedited curricula for veterans and that offer enhanced veteran recruiting, retention, and mentoring services.  The initiative will engage all physician assistant programs in learning how to replicate these models so that programs across the country can create better training and career pathways for veterans.  HRSA will start by providing technical assistance to more than 21 institutions beginning the week of Veterans Day.  These institutions represent those with active veteran programs who can share best practices and strategize for further outreach to the 159 accredited physician assistants programs across the country, extending the reach beyond those that receive HRSA funds.
On October 19, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that the American Logistics Association (ALA) and their 270 affiliate companies have committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. This commitment is part of the First Lady’s and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative to support veterans and military families.  The ALA’s commitment will fulfill a quarter of the President’s challenge to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.
President Obama called for a new Returning Heroes Tax Credit for firms that hire unemployed veterans and a Wounded Warriors Tax Credit that will increase the existing tax credit for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been unemployed long-term.
The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, working closely with other agencies and the President’s economic and domestic policy teams, will lead a new task force to develop reforms to ensure that every member of the service receives the training, education, and credentials they need to transition to the civilian workforce or to pursue higher education. These reforms will include the design of a “Reverse Boot Camp,” which will extend the transition period to give service members more counseling and guidance and leave them career-ready.
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