President Barack Obama announced his plans to ensure that America's veterans have the support they need to get into the civilian workforce. The president unveiled his initiatives Friday morning in a speech at the Washington Navy Yard.
Obama outlined four proposals that aim to reduce the jobless rate among Post-9/11 veterans, which now stands at 13.3 percent.
• A new Returning Heroes Tax Credit for firms that hire unemployed veterans (maximum credit of $2,400 for every short-term unemployed hire and $4,800 for every long-term unemployed hire), and a Wounded Warriors Tax Credit that will increase the existing tax credit for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities.
• The president challenged businesses to hire or provide training for 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013. The Joining Forces program will lead this work with businesses and industry.
• The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, working closely with other agencies and the president's economic and domestic policy teams, will lead a new task force to develop reforms to ensure that servicemembers receives the training, education and credentials they need to transition to the civilian workforce or pursue higher education.
• The Department of Labor will establish a new initiative to deliver an enhanced career development and job-search service package for transitioning veterans at their local One-Stop career centers. The Office of Personnel Management will create a "Best Practices" manual for the private sector to help businesses identify and hire veterans.
"The White House is acting on several initiatives that The American Legion has been urging President Obama to address ever since he took office," American Legion National Commander Jimmie L. Foster said.
Foster said the president's initiatives reflected The American Legion's national effort to hire veterans through more than 100 career fairs it sponsors each year, as well as development workshops for veteran-owned small businesses and education roundtables that focus on issues that affect student veterans.
"We have about 1 million unemployed veterans right now," Foster said. Most of them are young and worked in jobs that have been hit the hardest by the recession, such as construction, manufacturing, transportation and utilities.
"The American Legion wants employers and businesses to move aggressively to recruit more veterans. They are well trained, well qualified, responsible and reliable. We need to honor their service by giving them jobs."
Peter Gaytan, executive director of the Legion's Washington office, said that another 1 million servicemembers are projected to leave the military between now and 2016. "So joblessness among our veterans could become even worse if we don't take decisive action now," Gaytan said. "These White House initiatives are just what our jobless veterans need, and just what the Legion has been recommending to the president."