Helping Veterans Find Economic Success
UPDATE: On 11/16, the jobs and training related sections discussed below officially passed both Houses of Congress (added to H.R. 674) and will be sent to the President for his signature into law. On this Veterans Day, we take comfort in knowing that our wartime commitment in Iraq will soon end. And while America’s fighting men and women will no longer be in harm’s way in Iraq, new veterans are joining civilian life in a weak economy here at home. One way what we can honor our veterans is by helping them find a job and ensuring they have a foundation for a strong economic future. I have supported several bills that would help veterans in the job market.
Tax Credits and Career Readiness Efforts to Support Veterans’ Hiring
The American Jobs Act (H.R. 12) would create the Returning Heroes Tax Credit of up to $5,600 for hiring unemployed veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months. A Wounded Warriors Tax Credit of up to $9,600 would be allowed for hiring unemployed workers with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months. The bill would also create a new task force to maximize career readiness of servicemembers.
The Tax Credit to Hire Veterans Act of 2011 (H.R. 2443) would provide a tax incentive to be applied toward capital equipment purchases to small businesses that hire unemployed veterans. The tax incentive provides small businesses, including veteran-owned businesses, the option to grow their companies, while also hiring a jobless veteran. Several protections within the legislation ensure that veterans will be hired for the right reasons and prevent abuse.
Education and Training for the Workforce
The Veteran Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 (H.R. 2433) would further provide retraining assistance to eligible veterans with special consideration given to those who have been unemployed for 26 weeks. Veterans participating in the program would be entitled to up to 12 months of education or training on a full-time basis in associates degree or certificate programs approved by the VA, a community college or technical school. These programs would be designed to provide training for a high-demand occupation, as determined by the Labor Department. H.R. 2433 passed the House on October 12 with my support.
H.R. 2433 also creates the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which provides servicemembers who are about to be discharged with job counseling, help identifying career training, resume writing, and other information to help their transition to the civilian world. Spouses of servicemembers would also be eligible for the program.
Last year I voted for the Post 9-11 GI Bill (Title 38 U.S.C., Chapter 33) to provide a four-year college education to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. These benefits were also extended to the children of members of the armed forces who die while on active duty.
Licensing and Certification of Military-Learned Skills
Even though the military creates trained professionals, they are often not credentialed or licensed in their fields in the civilian world. This disparity prevents these men and women from using their military training for employment. Such professions include combat medics, truck drivers, and aircraft technicians. The VA will select five to ten military occupational specialties for a demonstration project related to matching those skills with civilian employment in an industry with high demand for workers. (H.R. 2443)
Providing Surviving Military Spouses with Mortgage Protection
H.R. 1263 was introduced to extend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (PL 108-189), which protect against seizure and foreclosure of a veteran’s home. The bill increases the mortgage relief period from nine months to 12 months after the servicemember returns from active duty. It also extends mortgage-related protections to surviving spouses of servicemembers who die on active duty or whose death is service connected. H.R. 1263 passed the House on October 12 with my support.
The Veteran Opportunity to Work Act, referenced earlier, would also extend eligibility for VA housing loan guarantees to surviving spouses of certain totally disabled veterans.
As we remember their patriotic sacrifices, we must renew our commitment to keeping our promises to the nation’s more than 23 million veterans and their families, including 67,000 in the 13th District of Georgia. This promise to our active duty members and our veterans must be kept, even as we face strained budgets and calls for austerity.