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Senate Democrats Announce Bill to Put America's Veterans Back to Work

Press Release

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Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Max Baucus (D-MT) unveiled the "VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011," which combines a key component of President Obama's jobs bill with a related, bipartisan initiative to boost employment opportunities for veterans.

After serving our country honorably, all veterans deserve the chance to earn a paycheck and support their families. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate for veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan remains stubbornly high. Borrowing from the American Jobs Act proposed by the President, the bill unveiled Friday would offer a tax credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans, and will increase existing tax credits for companies that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities. In addition, following negotiations with House Republicans, the legislation contains bipartisan provisions to ensure that all service members transitioning to civilian life receive the job training skills they need to find a job.

Cost estimates for the fully paid-for legislation were expected to be available Monday after the bill is filed. It is expected to be offered as an amendment to separate legislation that eliminates a withholding requirement for government contractors.

"The bill we are introducing is a bipartisan and comprehensive approach to getting our nation's veterans back to work," said Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "It includes Republican and Democratic ideas because getting our veterans the financial security and dignity a job provides should never be partisan. For too long in this country we have patted our veterans on the back for their service and then pushed them out into the job market alone. With this bill we are giving our veterans the job skills to get their foot in the door and incentivizing employers to make sure that door is open to them."

"No veteran should stand at the back of any unemployment line," Senator Debbie Stabenow said. "When we say "support our troops' that can't just be lip-service, we must support them through action. Congress shouldn't just pass a resolution honoring Veterans Day next week, it needs to take real action to help America's one million unemployed veterans get back to work."

"Our commitment to our service members shouldn't end when they return home as skilled, experienced civilians. Today, the unemployment rate for young veterans is 27 percent--which is simply unacceptable. That means more than one in four of these young veterans can't find a job to support their family or to ease the transition to civilian life," Senator Sherrod Brown said. "Our veterans' service to our country does not stop when they leave the military. From leadership experience to technical and scientific skills, veterans are key to our nation's economic competitiveness."

"It's unacceptable that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have a higher unemployment rate than the rest of America, and we owe them better than that," Senator Jon Tester said. "We have a responsibility to empower all veterans with the tools they need to find good-paying jobs. And this plan incorporates bipartisan ideas to ease the transition between military service and the civilian workforce."

"The unemployment level we are seeing among our veterans is a disgrace, and hits home especially hard in Montana, because we have more vets per capita than almost anywhere else. That's why it's so important we pass this legislation to give tax credits to businesses that hire veterans and make it easier for veterans to translate the valuable skills they learn in combat to civilian employment. I'm also committed to continue working to cut down on red tape and make it even easier for businesses to take advantage of this tax credit. Creating jobs is our number one priority, and there is no better place to start than with our veterans - especially right now with thousands of troops set to return home from Iraq by the end of the year," said Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus.

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