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Give Returning Vets - and Yourself - a Break With the Hire Heroes Act

December 07, 2011
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In this day and age of disengaged politicians and dysfunctional government, I have to say I was surprised that Congress managed to handle a no-brainer and pass the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.

President Obama signed the bill into law on Nov. 21, and now servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will have a leg up on gaining well-deserved (and hopefully good paying) employment upon their return.

TIA was a strong backer of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which encourages businesses to hire returning veterans (or any vet) with a series of tax credits. “With more and more servicemen and women returning to civilian life after drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, tens of thousands will be looking for jobs,” said TIA president Larry Brandt.

“The just-passed legislation would increase an existing tax credit for businesses to hire veterans and help them provide real opportunity during our economic recovery.”

Yes, it will. Especially for those whose civilian-life employment was lost or never even existed.

According to government sources, while the overall unemployment rate for all veterans remains lower than the general population, the rate for those just returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (generally younger than 35 years of age) has reached 12.1% – about 3% greater than the national average and up 2% from just one year ago.

Some 240,000 who served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan were discharged and came home jobless. Young men – 18 to 24 – have been hardest hit; that group had an astounding unemployment rate of 21.9% in 2010.

There are all kinds of other facts and figures and stats, covering not only those who have served most recently, but unemployed and homeless vets who served in past conflicts. You can nose around and find this data if you like.

In brief, the new law provides:

• A tax credit of up to $5,600 to companies hiring veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months, and another $2,400 credit for hiring veterans who were unemployed for more than four weeks, but less than six months.

• A tax credit of up to $9,600 to firms hiring vets with service-related disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months.

• Expanded education and training opportunities for older veterans by providing 100,000 unemployed veterans of past conflicts with up to one year of additional Montgomery GI benefits to go toward education/training programs at community colleges or technical schools. Disabled veterans can get another year of additional vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits.

“These tax credits will make a difference in lives of many hard working returning soldiers, sailors, airmen and their families, and would be an important way for America to say ‘thank you’ for their shared sacrifice,” said Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president.

Yes, they will. But these promises are worth no more than the paper they are printed on, unless someone steps up and participates.

Like you.

There are tens of thousands of unemployed vets already home from the wars, and with the pending drawdowns in Iraq (this month) and Afghanistan (expected next year), there will be tens of thousands more who will soon be searching for meaningful employment.

Whether you see it as “doing the right thing” or “supporting our troops” or “performing a patriotic act,” we urge all of our readers to strongly consider hiring at least one military veteran.

Yes, we have suffered through a long period of devastatingly high unemployment. Millions have suffered with no/low employment, even without the addition of another 300,000 returning troops. And we’re not saying these folks are somehow unworthy of your consideration; if you can find it in your heart and budget to hire someone who has been desperately seeking a decent paying job, then please do so.

What this group of eager and willing men and women bring to the table are two obvious things: they are young and most have not embarked on a career path; they’d be like clay in your hands. Second, they come to your door carrying thousands in government-granted tax credits. This is a win-win-win – if you choose to partake.

All it takes is one.

If every company that receives this magazine hired just one returning vet, more than 30,000 well-trained, well-mannered, hard-working individuals will get the best “Thank You For Your Service” they could want – a chance.

That’s a pretty good dent in a growing problem.

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And with that, we close out 2011. For some, natural disasters made it one hellishly difficult year. At minimum, it has been an interesting one. We all hope that 2012 brings with it better days.

The entire staff of Tire Review and Babcox Media wish you and yours a glorious holiday season, and a new year full of hope, health and harmony.

Peace.