FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 9, 2011
SCHUMER: THOUSANDS OF VETERANS IN UPSTATE NEW YORK ARE OUT OF WORK – PUSHES LEGISLATION ON THE SENATE FLOOR THIS WEEK TO PROVIDE TAX CUTS FOR BUSINESSES THAT HIRE RETURNING HEROES, IMPROVE WORKER TRAINING FOR VETS
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced his support for the VOW to Hire Heroes Act that is on the Senate floor this week, to provide tax cuts for businesses who hire out-of-work veterans. The legislation also includes several bipartisan efforts to improve assistance for veterans’ transition back to civilian life. Under the bill, the Transition Assistance Program, an effort coordinated by the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans affairs that includes writing workshops and career counseling, would be mandatory for service members leaving active duty. The bill also expands education and training opportunities for certain veterans, providing GI Bill benefits for veterans seeking training at community colleges or technical schools. Schumer, a cosponsor of the bill, is pushing for the legislation in order to combat the stubbornly high rate of unemployment among New York’s veterans, which hovers near 15% in certain counties around the state.
“New York’s veterans have given their all for our country,” said Schumer. “The least we can do is offer them real job opportunities when they leave the service. With thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines set to come home, we need to do everything we can to ensure they have the skills that local employers need, and that our small businesses can afford to hire veterans. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act will help small businesses across New York do their part to honor veterans’ service when they come home.”
The VOW to Hire Heroes Act contains a series of tax credits for businesses that hire out of work veterans. Businesses that hire veterans who have been searching for work for at least four weeks, but less than six months, are eligible for a tax credit of up to $2,400 per each veteran hired. Businesses that hire a veteran who has been looking for a job for at least six months would receive a tax credit worth up to $5,600. If a company hires a veteran with a service-disconnected disability who has been seeking work for at least six months, that business would be eligible for tax credits worth up to $9,600.
The legislation would also make the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) mandatory for service members. TAP provides resume writing workshops and career counseling, and is managed by the Department of Defense, with support from the Departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs. It was developed to help military personnel and their family members adjust to leaving the service and to help them find good-paying, family-sustaining employment. Program resources are available online at turbotap.org and at major military installations including Fort Drum, West Point, Fort Hamilton, and the Naval Support Academy in Saratoga Springs. When a service member is preparing to leave the service and search for civilian work, TAP helps them draft a competitive resume, and ensures that they had a successfully job search strategy and the necessary interviewing skills to help them secure a job.
The bill also helps those with military skills and training to translate that vital experience into private sector licenses and certifications. Many veterans have years worth of training and on-the-job experience in highly skilled fields like healthcare, engineering, and criminal investigation. However, because the relationship between those jobs and their private sector equivalents is not always clear, veterans’ hard-won experience may not be taken into account in the private sector. The legislation will help skilled veterans translate their experience into civilian credentials, by establishing civilian equivalencies for military jobs.
Additionally, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act would expand education and training opportunities for unemployed veterans of past eras by providing an additional year of Montgomery GI Bill benefits that can be applied towards education or worker training programs at community colleges or technical schools. Disabled veterans would also be eligible for an additional year of vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits. Finally, the legislation would allow service members to begin seeking and securing employment within the federal government before they have fully left military service. The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security are full of positions in which veterans might thrive, and allowing veterans to begin the hiring process with those agencies and others throughout the government before they leave the military would minimize the disruption to their career, and help prevent prolonged periods of unemployment.
Unemployment among Upstate New York’s veteran population, particularly younger veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has remained stubbornly high over the last several years. Currently, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that there are 19,736 unemployed veterans in Upstate New York alone. Here is a region-by-region breakdown:
· In the Capital Region, there are an estimated 3,038 unemployed veterans
· In Central New York, there are an estimated 2,367 unemployed veterans
· In the Rochester Finger Lakes Region, there are an estimated 3,039 unemployed veterans
· In the Southern Tier, there are an estimated 2,166 unemployed veterans
· In Western New York, there are an estimated 3,479 unemployed veterans
· In the Hudson Valley, there are an estimated 3,135 unemployed veterans
· In the North Country, there are an estimated 1,367 unemployed veterans
Last year, the veteran population in the United States consisted of 20.2 million men and 1.8 million women, accounting for about 9.5% of the adult population in the country. 2.2 million of those veterans served after September 11, 2011, and two thirds of that total were under 35 years old. Unemployment among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has risen to 12.1% nationally, up from 10.6% from a year ago. 240,000 young veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed nationwide. An astonishing 21.9% of male veterans aged 18-24 who have served since September 11thwere unemployed last year, according to data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“These numbers should be a call to action,” continued Schumer. “We need to do more to help our returning heroes find work, plain and simple. I hope Democrats and Republicans will come together and pass this bill that will help thousands of veterans from Westchester to Plattsburgh and over to Buffalo find work.”