This Memorial Day, as we honor those who have paid the ultimate price in protecting our freedom, it also reminds us to renew our efforts on behalf of the military veterans who have come back home.
The state of Missouri has been proud to honor and support those who are serving, or have served, in our military and their families. Over the past four years, we have started several programs and passed legislation on behalf of military families, for both active-duty members and veterans.
In 2010, I initiated the Show-Me Heroes program to encourage Missouri employers to hire veterans, and to recognize the efforts of those employers. To date, nearly 3,000 employers have taken the Show-Me Heroes pledge, meaning they will give first consideration to veterans when they have job openings. Those employers have put more than 4,271 veterans to work in the past three years. The employers know they are not just helping those veterans, they also are getting someone who is trained, disciplined, and who will work hard.
Last year, we strengthened Show-Me Heroes by adding an on-the-job training component for returning veterans employers agree to hire. Through this on-the-job training program, employers are reimbursed for 50 percent of the veteran's wages during a contracted training period. These resources are helping Missouri veterans obtain necessary skills to transition from military to civilian careers.
More help came to spouses of active-duty military in Missouri as well, as they became eligible for the same financial assistance provided to the spouses of National Guard and Reservists. That assistance includes payment of overdue bills; transportation and day care costs while they are pursuing employment; and vocational counseling and subsidized employment.
We have also recognized that military spouses often face unemployment when they leave a job to relocate. That is why I signed a bill last year that provides them with unemployment benefits of up to 20 weeks, or until they find new employment. In the past two years, some 248 Missouri families have been helped by this assistance after they relocated.
That same law from 2011 also helps military spouses who move to Missouri and have professional licenses in good standing. They can apply for a 180-day courtesy license to make the transfer of their professional credentials to Missouri as seamless as possible. A realtor in good standing in Georgia whose husband was transferred from Ft. Benning to Ft. Leonard Wood, for example, could apply for a temporary realtor's license that would enable her to work in that profession while she goes through the process of obtaining a permanent license here.
Missouri also has become an attractive location for retired military veterans, many of whom are now active in the civilian workforce. A law I signed in 2009 is phasing out the state tax on their military pensions, and the tax will be eliminated by 2016. It's another way we are recognizing their service to our country.
Finally, last year, I worked across the aisle to provide a dedicated funding source for Missouri's seven veterans homes, which house and care for more than 1,300 military veterans. Under legislation I signed, Missouri's veterans homes will have the resources they need to provide the high-quality, modern care our veterans deserve for many years to come.
The bottom line is that, in Missouri, we are proactively taking steps to help our troops and their families, both during and after their service. They sacrifice so much in order to ensure we remain free, and I am proud Missouri can offer these ways to thank them.