Senate passes VOW to Hire Heroes Act to Fight Veteran Unemployment
Posted by Tom Tarantino on November 10
Today, the Senate passed what will likely be the first jobs bill to reach President Obama’s desk. By a vote of 95-0 the VOW to Hire Heroes Act was passed and sent to the House of Representatives for a final vote. Beginning with Storm the Hill in March, IAVA has been pushing Congress for legislation to stem the rising tide of veteran unemployment. Thanks to the bi-partisan leadership of Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and Chairman Jeff Miller (R FL-1), it looks like Congress is about to step up in a big way.
After a year of hard work by both Democratic and Republican staff on the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees, the Hiring Heroes Act (S. 951) and the VOW Act (H.R. 2433) should reach the President’s desk as one comprehensive package. Both these bills have critical provisions that will help veterans find jobs and IAVA applauds their dedication to our men and women in uniform.
Included in the VOW to Hire Heroes Act are provisions that will:
- Make the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) mandatory for service members moving on to civilian life to help them secure 21st century jobs through resume-writing workshops and career counseling.
- Help veterans translate their military skills and certifications into similar jobs in the civilian work force.
- Expand education and training opportunities for older veterans by providing 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI benefits for education or training programs at community colleges or technical schools.
- Provide disabled veterans up to one year of additional vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits.
- Allow service members to begin the federal employment process prior to separation in order to facilitate a truly seamless transition from the military to jobs at VA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the many other federal agencies in need of our veterans.
- Authorize tax credits of up to $5,600 for businesses that hire veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months, as well as a $2,400 credit for veterans who are unemployed for more than 4 weeks but less than 6 months.
- Authorize tax credits of up to $9,600 for for businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months.
This bill will make a difference for veterans who are currently unemployed and servicemembers who will be entering the civilian workforce in the future. IAVA thanks Senator Reid for bringing this critical piece of legislation to the floor. We are confident that Speaker Boehner will do so as soon as the House returns.
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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