In the last ten years, millions of Americans have served their nation in Iraq or Afghanistan.
In answering the call to action, these brave men and women volunteered to put themselves directly in harm's way, thousands of miles from home. And when they came home, so many found -- and are still finding -- the recession that had years of devastating effects on our national economy hit veterans who served in those foreign conflicts even harder.
Traditionally, veterans have an unemployment rate below the national average. Sadly, that's not been true for veterans who have served since 2001. In fact, their unemployment rate has actually been higher -- averaging more than 12% in 2011 - which is no way to thank someone for serving. This disparity is one of the reasons President Obama signed into law the "VOW to Hire Heroes Act" and why we're taking action here in Delaware.
This week, I joined a group of great legislators to introduce the Veterans Opportunity Tax Credit. As introduced, our bill would give businesses an incentive to hire veterans who've recently returned or will be returning from military service in a hostile environment. The tax credit would last up to three years and be worth up to $4,500 per veteran hired.
The goal is to give businesses a clear incentive to put these veterans of foreign conflicts back to work, and to help these veterans who gave so much of their lives in service abroad, a better chance to restart their careers here at home.
You know, just before Thanksgiving last year, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and I went to Afghanistan and the Middle East to say -- first hand -- thank you to some of the brave Americans stationed there. To let them know that the country they were volunteering to serve was proud of them, and their choice. Although squarely in harms' way thousands of miles from home -- Their courage was clear. Their commitment was clear. And their absolute love of our great nation came through in every conversation we had.
There are so many ways we can thank our veterans, and I know so many of you do, each day. The Veterans Opportunity Tax Credit is one way we can give back to them, get them back to work, and say thank you for keeping Delaware, moving forward.