In case you missed it, there's something new called "VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011" that's sure to make a positive impact on putting Veterans back to work. The Act includes several provisions including (but not limited to); temporary extension of Montgomery GI Bill, making the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) mandatory for all service members, tools to match military skills to civilian careers, and tax credits for companies who hire unemployed veterans.
Upon reading this, my initial reaction focused on the fact that companies may receive thousands of dollars for hiring unemployed veterans. After reading the entire VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 (all 62 pages) however, I believe this is one of the most important pieces of legislation designed to reduce the high unemployment rate that's plagued veterans for years. Billed as a "...bipartisan, bicameral, comprehensive legislation that would lower the rate of unemployment among our nation's veterans," this program is paid for and does not increase the nation's deficit.
According to the Labor Department, there are 3.4 million job openings right now in the United States. There are nearly 900,000 unemployed veterans in the United States - and we all agree that this is unacceptable. The latest Department of Labor unemployment report shows that in October 2011, the average unemployment rate among all veterans was 7.7% and 12.1% for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Employers across the nation say that potential employees need more training in order to meet the demands of today's workforce. Veterans, who historically experience a higher unemployment than their civilian counterparts, can get the training and support necessary to compete under the Act.
For U.S. Companies, "VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011" provides a tax credit of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months, as well as a $2,400 credit for veterans who are unemployed for more than 4 weeks, but less than 6 months. The Act also provides a tax credit of up to $9,600 for hiring veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months.
I believe that in order to fully maximize the benefits VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 we need a team approach. Everyone involved in supporting veterans needs to boost their level of support. Here are some ideas and thoughts on how this can happen:
Companies Who VOW to Hire Heroes
The companies that reap the benefits of tax credits available through the VOW to Hire Heroes Act can make a bigger impact which extends far beyond the initial monies received for hiring unemployed veterans. Veterans bring a level of intellectual capital and drive worthy of any employer. Companies can:
Chain of Command
The Chain of Command at all levels can assist in the preparation of those ready to make the military-to-civilian career transition in several ways. Key to the success of this initiative includes a high level of continued support throughout the transition process. Obviously, the mission will dictate, but anything the unit leadership can do to facilitate and support their service members during this important time can help:
Our Government Agencies
In essence, the Authors of the "VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011" effectively moved unemployed veterans closer to the front of the hiring line:
"I can't stress enough that the proper implementation of this law is extremely critical, and as such I want to put both agencies on notice that this will be this Subcommittee's top priority in the next session of Congress," stated Rep. Marlin Stutzman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. "We need to identify any obstacles now so that our veterans can take full advantage of this jobs law."
"Earlier this year, I set a goal to cut veterans unemployment rates in half," stated Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and co-author of the law. "If this law is implemented properly, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act will help us attain that goal."
The American People
The term "Support Our Troops!" takes on a whole new meaning now! Many Americans continually demonstrate strong support of our military in many ways and seek any opportunity to continue that much needed support. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides yet another chance for you to support our Men and Women in uniform. The easiest way is to provide encouragement to those making the military-to-civilian career transition.
And, let's not forget to tell everyone about the VOW to Hire Heroes Act and how it can benefit those who served!
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