(Washington, D.C.) – Today, by a vote of 95-0, the Senate passed landmark legislation authored by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) to put America’s veterans back to work. Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced the basis of this comprehensive bill in May of this year after traveling throughout Washington state to talk to veterans, employers, and experts about the barriers veterans face in finding employment. The legislation is designed to help put veterans back to work by providing job skills training as they leave the military and by easing the training and certification process veterans face. The bill comes on the eve of Veterans Day, at a time when nearly one million American veterans are unemployed.
The bill passed today, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, combines provisions of Senator Murray’s original Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 with a tax credit for employers that hire veterans and job training assistance for veterans from earlier eras.
“This is a huge victory for our veterans who have returned home only to have to fight to find work to support themselves and their families,” said Senator Murray. “Our veterans have the drive, discipline, and self confidence to succeed in any workplace. But for too long at the end of their career we’ve patted them on the back for their service and pushed them out into the job market alone. This bill takes a huge step forward in rethinking the way we treat our men and women in uniform after they leave the military by helping them to translate the skills they learned in the military into careers and by giving employers even more incentive to hire veterans. Veterans across Washington state were instrumental in crafting this bill and deserve tremendous credit today.”
Details of Senator Murray’s bill:
THE VOW TO HIRE HEROES ACT OF 2011
Comprehensive Legislation to End Veteran Unemployment
The Problem – Veteran Unemployment
Approximately 160,000 active duty servicemembers and 110,000 National Guardsmen and reservists transition to civilian life each year. For too long, we’ve patted our veterans on the back for their service and then pushed them out into the job market alone.
This has led to an unacceptably high unemployment rate among veterans, without regard to their period of service. A recent Department of Labor report states that in 2010, the average unemployment rate among returning veterans was 11.5%. That is one in ten of our nation’s heroes who can’t find a job to support their family, don’t have an income that provides stability, and don’t have work that provides them with the self-esteem and pride that is so critical to their transition home. Currently, there are nearly 1 million unemployed veterans in the United States.
The Solution – “The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011”
“VOW to Hire Heroes Act” is bipartisan, bicameral, comprehensive legislation that would lower the rate of unemployment among our nation’s veterans. This bill combines provisions of Chairman Murray’s Hiring Heroes Act (S. 951; Report #112-36), Chairman Miller’s Veterans Opportunity to Work Act (H.R. 2433; Report #112-242), and veterans’ tax credits into a comprehensive package that will aggressively attack the unacceptably high rate of veteran’s unemployment by:
- Improving the Transition Assistance Program (TAP): The VOW to Hire Heroes Act will make TAP mandatory for most servicemembers transitioning to civilian status, upgrade career counseling options, and resume writing skills, as well as ensuring the program is tailored for the 21st Century job market.
- Facilitating Seamless Transition: This bill would 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, Homeland Security, or the many other federal agencies in need of our veterans.
- Expanding Education & Training: The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI Bill benefits to qualify for jobs in high-demand sectors, from trucking to technology. It also provides disabled veterans up to 1-year of additional Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits.
- Translating Military Skills and Training: This bill will also require the Department of Labor to take a hard look at what military skills and training should be translatable into the civilian sector, and will work to make it easier to get the licenses and certification our veterans need.
- Veterans Tax Credits: The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides tax incentives of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans, and up to $9,600 for hiring disabled veterans, if the veteran has been looking for work for six months or longer.