On Nov. 7, three American Legion national staff members stood behind President Barack Obama as he told an audience gathered at the White House Rose Garden that congressional stubbornness and party politics were halting the passage of his jobs bill for veterans. The president reiterated his arguments in favor of the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior tax credits. These are two provisions of the politically contested American Jobs Act now being considered by Congress.
The Returning Heroes Tax Credit offers firms that hire unemployed veterans a maximum credit of $5,600 per veteran. The Wounded Warriors Tax Credit would give firms a maximum $9,600 tax credit for each veteran hired with a service-connected disability. On Nov. 4, Peter Gaytan, the Legion's Washington office executive director, issued a statement in support of the proposed tax credits.
"The American Legion, on behalf of its 2.4 million members, appreciates the efforts of President Obama and Congress to curb the unacceptably high rate of unemployment among the men and women who have selflessly served our country," Gaytan said. "Tax credits will augment the good and patriotic intentions of employers with tangible, financial incentives. The rewards will be great for them and, most importantly, for the most deserving of our citizens - our military veterans."
During Obama's 15-minute speech yesterday, he said no veteran "should have to fight for a job at home after they fight for our nation overseas. Congress should pass the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior tax credits, but we can't wait for Congress to act. That's why today, I am directing my administration to move forward with three initiatives that will help make it easier for veterans to find jobs when they return home."
Obama then asked veterans' service organizations to promote three online government resources now being made available to job-seeking veterans:
• Veteran Gold Card -Entitles post-9/11 veterans to enhanced services at the Department of Labor's One Stop Career Centers nationwide.
• My Next Move for Veterans - An online tool that allows veterans to enter their military occupation specialty code and match it to equivalent civilian jobs.
• Veterans Job Bank - Designed to help veterans find job postings from veteran-friendly employers.
These three services can be accessed by visiting www.whitehouse.gov/vets.
Shortly after the president completed his Rose Garden address, the chairs of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., issued a press release commending a bipartisan agreement reached to boost employment opportunities for veterans.
"Today, we are putting aside politics and putting America's veterans first. This is the how the process should work," Miller said in the press release. "The VOW (Veterans Opportunity to Work) Act, which passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, provides the framework for this legislation and gets to the root of many of the employment problems our veterans face such as the inability to compete in today's job market and issues surrounding a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life."
"This agreement is a bipartisan and comprehensive approach to getting our nation's veterans back to work," Murray said in the same release. "It includes Republican and Democratic ideas because getting our veterans the financial security and dignity a job provides should never be partisan. For too long in this country we have patted our veterans on the back for their service and then pushed them out into the job market alone. By advancing this legislation we are giving our veterans the job skills to get their foot in the door and incentivizing employers to make sure that door is open to them."