Deadline: Veterans Day
Posted by Tom Tarantino on November 3
In two weeks, to commemorate an historic Veterans Day (11/11/11), Americans will hear our leaders in Washington give many speeches honoring our nation’s veterans. But despite all the talk in DC about jobs this year, the Senate has yet to do anything to combat veteran unemployment, which has been consistently almost two percentage points higher than the national average in 2011.
As we approach 11/11/11, America’s veterans deserve more than just speeches, they deserve immediate action. And there’s no better way to honor these men and women than for Congress to overcome their partisan-bickering and political posturing and pass a substantive jobs bills before Veterans Day. Almost three weeks ago, the House led the way by passing the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act (H.R. 2433). Now, as the clock counts down to 11/11/11, the Senate has a critical chance to pass a vets’ jobs bill and deliver for America’s veterans.
Right now, the Senate has two opportunities to act before Veterans Day to combat veteran unemployment:
1. The Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 (S. 951) is ready for a floor vote. The Hiring Heroes Act would strengthen and make mandatory a program to give veterans the skills they need to compete in the civilian job market. It would fund a study to translate military skills to their civilian equivalents, something that employers and unemployed veterans insist will make a difference. The bill has bipartisan support, with 36 cosponsors, and can be easily resolved with the VOW Act. It can be voted on today, all we need is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring it to the floor.
2. Tax credits for hiring veterans. The Senate can also move forward provisions of the American Jobs Act (AJA) that provide tax credits to businesses that hire our veterans. Tax incentives to hire veterans have had bipartisan support in the past and we should expect both Republicans and Democrats to welcome them again.
Our veterans deserve to come home to more than just an unemployment check. As troops return from Iraq before the holidays, we must prepare for their return by enabling employers to understand the skills these veterans bring to their businesses and by providing tax incentives to hire them. These are simple solutions that can go a long way to ending veteran unemployment.
Veterans and their families cannot wait. IAVA calls on Senator Reid to bring both of these measures to a vote first thing, so we can have a bill on the President’s desk by Veterans Day. IAVA is talking with Reid’s staff and we expect to see action on this very soon. If the Senate passes these bills before Veterans Day it will send a clear signal of honor and support to our nation’s veterans--and ensure that their Veterans Day speeches aren’t just cheap words.
Tom Tarantino is the Senior Legislative Associate at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in Washington D.C. He served 10 years in the U.S. Army and returned from Iraq in 2006 after one year of deployment with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Follow him on Twitter at @TomTarantino.
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