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VOW To Hire Vets

Reprinted from PN June 2012

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act is a comprehensive jobs package that will aggressively attack the unacceptably high rate of veterans’ unemployment.

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High unemployment rates continue to be a big topic in the daily news. It’s a subject that touches all of us in some way.

The U.S. Department of Labor says there are 3.4 million job openings in the United States, which is good, but it’s shameful there are 900,000 unemployed veterans. A remedy has been sought to help unemployed veterans find work, and for employers in the position to hire them to do so with incentives.

President Obama signed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act into law late last year. When Congress passed the act in October 2011, the unemployment rate for all vets was 7.7% and 12.1% for Iraq/Afghanistan veterans. If you are a paralyzed veteran with a spinal-cord injury/disease (SCI/D) or a catastrophic injury, the unemployment rate is an unbelievable 85%.

A Comprehensive Package

Many veterans have been out of work for such a long time they have exhausted all the tools available that would have helped them finish their education or become retrained. Many transitioning from the military have fresh skills but are faced with barriers and not finding work. 

In response to the need to help our veterans, there is the VOW to Hire Heroes Act. The act is intended to lower the rate of unemployment among our nation’s veterans.

The law combines provisions of House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs  Chairman Jeff Miller’s (R–Fla.) Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray’s (D–Wash.) Hiring Heroes Act.


The result is a comprehensive jobs package that will aggressively attack the unacceptably high rate of veterans’ unemployment.

What’s in the Act?

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans with up to one year of additional Montgomery GI Bill benefits to qualify for jobs in high-demand sectors, from trucking to technology.

It also provides disabled veterans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits up to one year of additional Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits. Other parts of the act include: 

 


Too many servicemembers don’t participate in Improving the TAP and enter civilian life without a basic understanding of how to compete in a tight job market. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act makes TAP mandatory for most servicemembers transitioning to civilian status.

 

The act upgrades career counseling options and job-hunting skills, and ensures the program is tailored to individuals and the 21st century job market through resumé-writing workshops and career counseling.

 


 

Facilitating Seamless Transition: Getting a civil service job can take months, which often forces veterans to seek unemployment benefits. To shorten the time to start a federal job after discharge, this law allows servicemembers to begin the federal employment process by acquiring veterans preference status, prior to separation. 

This facilitates a more seamless transition to civil service jobs at VA or the many other federal agencies that would benefit from hiring veterans.

 


 

Translating Military Skills and Training: This act requires the Department of Labor to take a hard look at how to translate military skills and training to civilian sector jobs, and it will work to make it easier to get the licenses and certifications veterans need.

 


 

Veterans Tax Credits: The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides tax credits for hiring veterans and disabled veterans who are out of work.

Tax credits of up to $5,600 are given for hiring veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months, as well as a $2,400 credit for those who are unemployed for more than four weeks but fewer than six months.

A tax credit of up to $9,600 is given for hiring veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months.

Retraining

Another key part of the act is the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP). VA and the Department of Labor are working together to roll out this new program on July 1. The program will provide retraining for veterans hardest hit by current economic conditions.

VRAP offers 12 months of training assistance to unemployed veterans. To qualify, a  veteran must:

-         Be at least 35 but no more than 60 years old

-         Be unemployed

-         Have an other than dishonorable discharge

-         Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program

-         Not be receiving VA compensation due to unemployability

-         Not be enrolled in a federal or state job training program

The program is limited to 45,000 participants during fiscal year 2012 and 54,000 from October 1 through March 31, 2014. Participants may receive up to 12 months of assistance at the full-time payment rate, under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program (currently $1,473 per month). Applications will be submitted through the Department of Labor and benefits will be paid by VA. The Department of Labor will provide employment assistance to every veteran who participates upon completion of their program.

Participants must be enrolled in a VA-approved program of education that is offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an associate degree, non-college degree, or a certification, and train the veteran for a high-demand occupation.

Paving Access

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) is helping to reach out to disabled veterans, their family members, and caregivers, along with able-bodied veterans who might otherwise fall through the cracks and not know about these new benefits in place to help them.  

Six master’s level vocational rehabilitation counselors work for PVA, and their program is called Operation PAVE (Paving Access for Veteran Employment).

The counselors are located at six VA medical centers and spinal cord-injury units. The counselors offer information, career counseling, job preparation, placement assistance, job-saving assistance, job monitoring, educational planning, and volunteer work exploration.

To locate a counselor or for more information, visit operationpave.org.  

 

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