Today, the "VOW to Hire Heroes Act," legislation co-sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow, was signed into law by President Obama. The bill honors veterans by helping ensure they can get a good job when their service ends. It provides an incentive for businesses to hire veterans, provides veterans training, and streamlines certification processes to ensure veterans have opportunities and the tools they need to land a job. 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.
"No veteran should stand at the back of an unemployment line. When our servicemen and women join the military, they make a lasting sacrifice. For that, we owe them our unwavering support. Congress cannot just pay veterans lip service; it needs to take real action to help America's one million unemployed veterans get back to work."
VOW to Hire Heroes Act 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 worked tirelessly to make sure veterans get the help they need after their service ends. Senator Stabenow brought veterans health clinics to Michigan, including new community-based outpatient clinics in Alpena, Bad Axe, Clare, and Cadillac, and 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.
Senator Stabenow honored our heroes this Veterans Day by presenting a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Air Medal to one of Michigan's veterans for his bravery while serving in Vietnam. She also attended other veterans events around Michigan. Earlier this month, she met an Honor Flight of Michigan World War II veterans at the National World War II Memorial to thank them for their service and welcome them to Washington, D.C.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are approximately 700,000 veterans in Michigan.