Democrats are working on several proposals to put veterans to work, but Republicans have refused to schedule them for a vote in the House. While the House has passed a veterans retraining bill, more must be done to address the nearly 12 percent unemployment rate for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
After their service to our country, we have an obligation to make sure our veterans have the tools necessary to navigate this difficult labor market and succeed in the civilian workforce. We support several plans to:
- provide tax credits for hiring veterans looking for work,
- strengthen much-needed training programs for separating servicemembers,
- encourage businesses and government contractors to hire the brave men and women who have developed valuable skills and professionalism while in the armed forces, and
- ensure that servicemembers leave the military career-ready.
President's American Jobs Act
- Provides a new Returning Heroes Tax Credit of up to $5,600 for veterans who have been unemployed six months or longer, and doubles the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit to $9,600 for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been unemployed six months or longer. This builds on the $2,400 tax credit for hiring unemployed veterans in the Recovery Act that expired at the end of 2010.
- Establishes a Department of Defense-led task force to maximize the career-readiness of all servicemembers, and enhances job search services through the Department of Labor for recently transitioning veterans.
- The President has also put forward two new initiatives to create jobs for veterans -- challenging Community Health Centers to hire 8,000 veterans over the next three years and helping veterans who were military medics to become physician assistants by giving priority in HHS physician assistant training grants to universities and colleges that help train veterans.
Hiring Heroes Act (H.R. 1941, Rep. Sanford Bishop)
This bill authorizes ongoing services we are providing and makes certain improvements in current programs for veterans.
- Modifies federal hiring practices to encourage the hiring of separating servicemembers and would allow servicemembers to begin the federal employment hiring process prior to separation;
- Makes participation in the Transition Assistance Program mandatory for separating servicemembers and requires that each servicemember receive an individualized assessment of jobs they may qualify for;
- Requires the Department of Labor (DoL) to engage with each veteran periodically to determine whether the veteran is employed and whether the veteran might be interested in further assistance;
- Continues a program that provides rehabilitation and vocational benefits to severely wounded members of the armed forces;
- Provides up to an additional 24 months of vocational rehabilitation and employment services to veterans who have exhausted both these benefits and state-provided unemployment benefits;
- Requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to engage with each veteran who has participated in its Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program periodically to determine whether the veteran is employed.
This bill also authorizes new programs aimed at improving the transition from servicemember to civilian employee.
- Creates a competitive grant program for nonprofit organizations that provide mentorship and job training programs that are designed to lead to job placements for veterans;
- Allows DoD to create a pilot program to provide paid work experience with civilian employees and contractors to facilitate the transition for servicemembers who are 180 days from separating; and
- Takes initial steps to help skilled veterans get certified or licensed for civilian jobs:
- Requires the Department of Defense (DoD), DoL, and VA to jointly contract for a study to identify the equivalencies between certain military occupational specialty (MOS)-related skills and civilian employment;
- Requires DoL, DoD, and VA collaborate to eliminate barriers between military training and civilian licensure or credentialing for several military occupational specialties.
Veterans Facing Unique Barriers to Finding Employment
Veterans are disciplined, skilled, team players, yet they still face difficulty when applying for employment.
- In September, the unemployment rate for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was a staggering 11.7 percent, leaving 235,000 veterans struggling to find jobs after the most severe economic recession since the Depression. And younger returning veterans (18 to 24) are facing an even more difficult challenge with more than one in five out of work and looking for a job last year.
- Overall, the unemployment rate for this group of veterans has remained high - we cannot afford to leave them behind.
- As the Iraq War responsibly winds down and servicemembers continue to separate from the military, the problem of veteran unemployment could grow larger.
- Helping veterans find employment when they come home is only right given their service to the nation. It also provides an income to support their families and is critical to a successful transition back to civilian life.