Veterans deserve chance to share American dream

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We ask them to leave their homes and loved ones, teach them to kill fellow human beings and send them to an environment and culture that are as alien to them as is possible on Planet Earth.

We ask them to risk loss of life and limb, and, too often, when they come home damaged in mind or body, make it difficult for them to get the help they need.

Even if they are relatively intact, the environment they find doesn't match the one they imagined when they voluntarily enlisted a few years before.

Things aren't good on the home front, especially if you've been out of the employment loop for a hitch in the military, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere around the world.

Some 12.1 percent of veterans who served in the military since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 were unemployed in October, higher than the rate of 9 percent.

It's worst among veterans under the age of 24, where the rate was closer to 22 percent.

So it's good to see Washington has achieved a true measure of bipartisan cooperation in putting unemployed veterans back to work.

The Senate is expected to approve legislation to encourage companies doing business with the government to hire more veterans.

And, first lady Michelle Obama and the vice president's wife, Jill Biden, have announced commitments from a range of companies to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014 under their Joining Forces initiative.

They also announced a new online Veterans Job Bank tool to help veterans and spouses search for jobs -- it has already identified 550,000 job postings.

The International Franchise Association, which represents companies like the UPS Store and Arby's, has pledged 80,000 jobs for veterans and spouses, including 5,000 so-called wounded warriors.

Meanwhile, senators took a break from their standoff over Obama's $447 billion jobs package, to advance a bill benefitting veterans.

The Senate bill would give tax credits of up to $9,600 to companies that hire disabled veterans who have been jobless for six months or more, and enhance job training and counseling for vets. It would also create new tax credits of up to $5,600 for employers hiring veterans who have job hunted at least half a year, and $2,400 for those out of work for four weeks or more.

The bill would also expand education and job training benefits for veterans, improve employment counseling they receive while still in the military, and provide an extra year of job services for disabled veterans.

The help comes at a cost, of course. It would be paid for by extending a fee the Veterans Affairs Department charges to back home loans.

It would also repeal a law, passed five years ago under President Bush, withholding 3 percent of government payments to contractors. That bill, which is not yet in effect, was enacted to make up for billions of dollars contractors had not paid in taxes.

That will cost the government $11.2 billion over the next decade, but the law would make up for it by making it harder for some Social Security beneficiaries to qualify for Medicaid.

This Veterans Day, there should be at least some hope for veterans that they will soon be able to enjoy the American dream for which they sacrificed.

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  • Although encouraging employers to hire veterans is a good idea, it is unlikely that this bill will have any effect on the economy or job growth. Much like the payroll tax cuts in Obama's jobs bill that employers don't think will encourage hiring (http://eng.am/nQFWgQ), this new credit will not spur new jobs.

    Employers make hiring decisions based on whether a new hire will increase profits, not on short term accounting gimmicks. Even companies who will now hire veterans are mot likely choosing veterans over the non-veterans they were already going to hire anyway (http://eng.am/rQ68hF).

    -- Posted by Scott Engage America on Thu, Nov 10, 2011, at 2:34 PM
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