10/13/2011 01:45 pm ET Updated Dec 13, 2011

House Passes Veterans Opportunity To Work Act

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act Wednesday evening.

The House legislation, passed by 400 lawmakers, wouldn't actually create jobs. Rather, it would overhaul the military's Transition Assistance Program, creating a job retraining program for older veterans who have been unemployed for 26 weeks or more.

This comes days after the Labor Department announced that unemployment among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans rose in September, reaching 11.7 percent. The national rate is 9.1 percent, and the overall veteran's unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said the vote sent a strong message of support, reports:

"The VOW Act is the most comprehensive, thoughtful legislation that has been introduced to get our veterans out of unemployment lines and into meaningful jobs," he said.

Experts say support for the VOW Act could mean that a veterans jobs bill will be signed into law in the next few weeks.

The goal has been for veterans employment legislation to be signed by Veterans Day, but making the Nov. 11 deadline could prove to be difficult since the House and Senate are each scheduled to take a week off in October, according to Navy Times.

Paul Reickhoff, president of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said the bill is -- at the very least -- an encouraging sign, the Navy Times reports.

The bill "may not create a job in a straight line but it does put people in a line to get one," Reickhoff said. "This is going to be a multiyear effort."

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