Yesterday, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the bipartisan VOW to Hire Heroes Extension Act of 2012 (S. 3536), a bill that simplifies the hiring of unemployed and disabled veterans. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Jim Webb (D-Va.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Dean Heller (D-Nev.) joined Blumenthal in introducing this bill as original cosponsors.
Currently, to be considered a "qualified veteran," individuals must gain approval through a local employment agency, which can be an unnecessarily burdensome and time-consuming process for both the veteran and the potential employer. This bill would modify the Work Opportunity Tax Credit process to allow individuals to be considered "qualified veterans" for tax purposes if they simply provide a DD 214 and valid proof of unemployment.
Additionally, this bill would extend the amount of time employers have to take advantage of tax credits for hiring unemployed or disabled veterans. Under the bipartisan VOW to Hire Heroes Act -- a bill that Blumenthal cosponsored and was signed into law last year -- employers are able to collect tax credits of up to $9,600 for hiring unemployed or disabled veterans through the end of 2012. Blumenthal's bill would allow employers to collect these tax credits through the end of 2016.
This bill makes changes to the current process based on feedback from the veterans and small business communities, both of which expressed a need to simplify the hiring process for veterans. The bill is also endorsed by Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
"We must extend a veterans jobs program that has worked to provide jobs to returning men and women in uniform," said Blumenthal. "The tax credits in the VOW to Hire Heroes Act have already encouraged the hiring of veterans in Connecticut and throughout the country, and have helped to grow businesses nationwide. Unfortunately, these tax credits, which have proven successful, will expire in 2012. My legislation will allow employers to take advantage of these tax credits for an additional four years, providing our returning servicemen and women with a clearer path to employment. I urge my colleagues to continue their support for our veterans by supporting this legislation, which will create more good jobs and grow our economy."
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Blumenthal has been a strong advocate of policy measures that help veterans. He introduced the Honoring All Veterans Act of 2011 (S.1060), legislation that improves education, employment, independent living, housing assistance, and health care services for veterans. He also introduced the Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act of 2011 (S.1147), legislation that would require the provision of chiropractic care and service to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and expand access to such care and services.