After a unanimous vote in the House last week, the President has signed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, legislation co-sponsored by Senator Gillibrand 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.
"I'm thrilled that Congress has chosen to suspend partisan gridlock in favor of putting our brave men and women in uniform back to work," said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "With unemployment among veterans on the rise, it's critical that we work quickly to provide our troops with the tools to compete in today's difficult job market. Our service members represent some of our most talented and productive citizens, and having a stake in their future has always been one of the greatest investments we can make as a nation. I can think of no better way to honor their service to this country than to provide them with good-paying jobs when 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.