The U.S. Senate today unanimously passed a bill cosponsored by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, the "VOW to Hire Heroes Act," a jobs bill that would provide an incentive for businesses to hire veterans, provide veterans training and streamline certification processes to ensure veterans have opportunities and the tools they need to land a job after their service is complete. While the national unemployment rate is 9 percent, the unemployment rate for service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is substantially higher at 12.1 percent. The legislation honors the service and sacrifice of men and women who have fought for America in the best way possible-by helping ensure they can get a good job when their service ends.
Stabenow is one of five original cosponsors of the veterans jobs bill. President Obama urged Congress to pass Stabenow's bill earlier in the week.
"No veteran should stand at the back of any unemployment line. When we say 'support our troops' that can't just be lip-service, we must support them through action," said Sen. Stabenow. "Congress shouldn't just pass a resolution honoring Veterans Day this week-it should take real action to help America's one million unemployed veterans get back to work."
The legislation passed today gives tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed veterans, including a:
* $2,600 credit for hiring veterans who have been looking for jobs for more than four weeks but less than six months
* $5,600 credit for hiring a veteran unemployed longer than six months
* $9,600 for hiring a veteran unemployed longer than six months that also has service-connected disabilities
The bill also helps ensure veterans have the skills they need to find work after their service to our country ends by:
* Ensuring that all service members returning to civilian life will benefit from job training through the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), an interagency workshop coordinated by Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs.
* Working with states to create a licensing and credentialing standard for returning service members to ensure experience performed in military occupations is taken into account when veterans seek licenses for similar work as a civilian.
* Expanding education and training opportunities for older veterans with an additional year of GI benefits.
* Allows veterans to begin applying for a federal job at Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, or other federal agencies shortly before ending their military service rather than being forced to be unemployed before applying, as is the case under current law.
For years, Senator Stabenow has led the fight to make sure that veterans get the care they need and bring veterans health clinics to Michigan, including new community-based outpatient clinics in Alpena, Bad Axe, Clare, and Cadillac. Senator Stabenow also led the effort to create the new clinic in Cheboygan County, personally delivering 4,000 signatures from local residents asking for the clinic to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. The new clinic, located in Mackinaw City, will held its grand opening today.
Last week, Senator Stabenow welcomed World War II Veterans from Michigan for a visit at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photos available here)
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are approximately 700,000 veterans in Michigan.