Unemployed veterans and those leaving the military may soon find a rosier civilian jobs market and get an inside track to better education and training opportunities after passage of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.
The legislation breezed through the House and Senate last week via unanimous vote and was signed into law Monday by President Barack Obama.
Eddie Perez, the transition services manager for Fort Benning’s Army Career and Alumni Program, said the new bill presents Soldiers and veterans a great opportunity for a successful move into a new career.
“This is a win-win situation,” he said. “The federal government can keep its most valuable and highly trained resource — our Soldiers. Soldiers can obtain veterans preference status prior to separation, and over 100,000 veterans will receive an additional year of education and training.”
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U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr., D-Ga., sponsored the initiative in the House.
The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provisions will ensure that all service members transitioning to civilian life receive the job-training skills they need to find a job, according to a news release from the congressman’s office. The legislation also offers a tax credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans and increases existing tax credits for companies that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities.
“We all have an obligation to ensure our veterans land on their feet when they come home and help them find good paying jobs to support their families,” Bishop said in the release. “These heroes have risked the most for our country. They shouldn’t be coming home to unemployment checks. That’s why providing this support to our nation’s veterans is simply the right thing to do.”
The Hire Heroes Act measures were included in H.R. 674, a comprehensive bill that also repeals a 2006 law requiring federal, state and local governments to withhold 3 percent of payments due to government contractors.
In October, the unemployment rate for veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan was 12.1 percent, compared to 9.1 percent for the U.S. overall, the release stated. The youngest of veterans, ages 18 to 24, had a 30.4 percent unemployment rate last month, an increase from 18.4 percent a year ago. Among black veterans in the same age group, the jobless rate is 48 percent.
“We have the largest talent pool in the country for many companies to draw from at no cost to them,” Perez said. “Many companies know this and are gainfully working with us to put our veterans back to work. This tax incentive will make it an even sweeter deal for them. Success in achieving what is laid out in this bill begins in the Army Career and Alumni Program center on Fort Benning.”
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