Congressman Peter J. Roskam (R-IL) today reaffirmed his strong commitment to the men and women of our Armed Forces and the Illinois Teamsters' Helmets to Hardhats program by announcing plans to pursue federal legislation to give employers tax credits for hiring veterans. Roskam was joined at a press conference by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Teamsters President Michael Yauger.
"A veteran workforce is a strong workforce," said Roskam. "Veterans now, more than ever, are returning home from foreign battlefields with advanced skill sets, ready and willing to continue to serve their families, their communities and their country. Federal, state and local resources must continue to work together to ensure the men and women of our Armed Forces can take advantage of the best employment opportunities available upon their return."
Roskam is pursuing new federal legislation making it easier for employers who seek out and hire returning veterans to receive tax credits. Current legislation places undue requirements on veterans and employers to be eligible for any tax credit, including requiring veterans to be enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) or on food stamps.
"Nationwide, unemployment among veterans is at 10.4 percent, more than double Chicago's overall jobless rate of 4.7 percent," continued Roskam. "We must reverse this trend by helping all returning veterans find jobs - not just those who happen to meet the current strict requirements. Tax credits for employers who hire any veteran, coupled with programs like Helmets to Hardhats, will make sure all veterans can find a high-paying job upon their return. This nation owes them nothing less."
Despite a high veteran unemployment rate, federal funding for Helmets to Hardhats was cut in the FY08 federal budget by 80 percent. Roskam has requested $3.5 million for the Helmets to Hardhats program in the FY09 Defense Appropriations Bill.
As of September 2007, Illinois had 9,720 service members deployed, of which only about 1,000 will return to jobs protected under federal law.