As the nation prepares to honor our veterans tomorrow, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Senate passage of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, legislation that addresses unacceptably high rates of unemployment among veterans including measures to incentivize their hiring and ease their transition into the work force. The bill, which passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support, aims to ensure that all troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have the necessary tools for a seamless transition from military service to the civilian workforce.
"The unemployment rate among veterans is a national crisis and I applaud the Senate's decision today to give our veterans the support they have earned" said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day, and while we reflect on their immeasurable service to the country this Veterans' Day, we can be proud that we in Congress are working to do everything we can to provide them with the jobs they deserve when they return home."
The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 contains a series of tax credits available to employers hiring veterans including a credit worth up to $2,400 for employers who hire veterans unemployed for over four weeks, a credit worth up to $5,600 for veterans unemployed for over six months, and a credit worth of up to $9,600 for unemployed veterans with a service-connected disability. The credit is based on 40 percent of first year wages of qualified individuals, up to the caps noted above.
In addition, the bill expands and improves upon several existing benefits aimed at helping service members find jobs. The legislation would make mandatory the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) which provides career counseling and job search skills to service members, and would allow troops to begin the federal employment process while still serving in the military. The bill would also provide up to one year of additional training benefits for disabled veterans through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. Finally, the bill expands education and training opportunities for nearly 100,000 veterans from past eras by providing an additional year of Montgomery GI bill benefits to be put toward programs at community colleges and technical schools.
The VOW to Hire Heroes Act represents the latest effort by Senator Gillibrand in her long-established commitment to combating rising joblessness among veterans. Last February, Senator Gillibrand hosted roundtables across New York State with local veterans and business leaders to seek out solutions to unemployment among veterans. The new bill, which was introduced this week and passed with broad bipartisan support in the House last month, reflects the approaches discussed at the roundtable and expands upon Gillibrand supported legislation.