VOW to Hire Heroes Act Moving Forward
Earlier this week we informed you about the VOW to Hire Heroes Act. The legislation provides tax cuts for businesses who hire out-of-work veterans. It includes several efforts to improve assistance for veterans’ transition back to civilian life. Coordinated by the departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs, it mandates that service members leaving active duty must take advantage of writing workshops and career counseling. The legislation passed by a vote of 94-1 in the Senate.
The highlights of the bill include:
Veteran Hiring Tax Credits: The amendment provides a tax credit for businesses that hire veterans. The credits will range from up to $2,400 to up to $9,600 in 2012 depending on the veteran hired. The credits vary for veterans with service-connected disabilities, service-disabled veterans, long-term unemployed veterans and other conditions. The credit is only available for the calendar year 2012.
Veterans Assistance: The Veterans assistance provisions are primarily composed of essentially two bills already introduced in Congress: the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 (S.951) and the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 (H.R. 2433). Both measures are directed at improving the provision of Federal transition, rehabilitation, vocational, and unemployment benefits to members of the Armed Forces and veterans.
According to the Department of Labor, there are nearly 900,000 unemployed veterans in the United States. The average unemployment rate among all veterans was 7.7 and 12.1 percent for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. The Labor Department notes that veterans between the ages of 35 and 64, the demographic with the highest financial obligations and the fewest available Veterans Affairs education and training options, continue to make up nearly two-thirds of all unemployed veterans. This is unacceptable in a country where the national defense base budget in 2010 was $663.8 Billion.
These numbers indicate the grave importance of this new legislation. The majority of Congress are in support of the bill which will be added to the 3% Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act. The Obama Administration strongly support passage of H.R. 674 and an amendment offered by Senator John Tester (D-MT). The amendment adds a package of tax incentives for businesses who hire unemployed veterans. The current administration stated that, “together they will reduce unemployment and ensure that veterans leave the military with the tools they need to be successful in the civilian workforce.”