Entries in Veterans (21)


Obama Signs Bill to Help Vets; Urges Lawmakers to 'Keep Working' on Deal

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- With the failure of the supercommittee looming large, President Obama on Monday praised a rare moment of bipartisanship in Washington as he signed a bill intended to help unemployed veterans get back to work and urged lawmakers to “keep going.”

“My message to every member of Congress is keep going. Keep working.  Keep finding more ways to put partisanship aside and put more Americans back to work,” the president said as he signed the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits.

Although Obama made no direct mention of the supercommittee, after the signing he was spotted talking with two Senate members of the committee -- co-chair Patty Murray of Washington and Max Baucus of Montana.

Continuing to keep his distance from the issue -- something that has riled critics -- Obama shrugged off questions shouted from the press about the supercommittee.

“Because Democrats and Republicans came together, I’m proud to sign those proposals into law,” Obama said as he signed the tax credits intended to encourage businesses to hire veterans, the first proposal of his $447 billion jobs bill to become law.

The legislation, which passed with overwhelming support from both parties, will also increase job-training and counseling programs for the nation’s 850,000 unemployed veterans.

“Today the message is simple. For businesses out there, if you are hiring, hire a veteran. It's the right thing to do for you, it's the right thing to do for them, and it's the right thing to do for our economy,” Obama said.

While the rest of the American Jobs Act remains stalled on Capitol Hill, the president said he will continue to urge lawmakers to act, in particular on tax cuts for workers and small-business owners.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Military Veteran

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Democrats and Republicans lowered their swords long enough Thursday to pass the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which would dangle tax credits at employers as incentive to hire military veterans. The House is expected to pass it next week.

In the meantime, however, there are plenty of other reasons to hire military veterans. Here are 10 of them, courtesy of the U.S. Labor Department:

Accelerated learning curve: Veterans have the proven ability to learn new skills and concepts. In addition, they can enter your workforce with identifiable and transferable skills, proven in real-world situations.

  Veterans understand the practical ways to manage behaviors for results. They also know the dynamics of leadership as part of both hierarchical and peer structures.

Teamwork:  Military duties involve a blend of individual and group productivity. They also necessitate a perception of how groups of all sizes relate to each other and an overarching objective.

Diversity and inclusion in action: Veterans have learned to work side by side with individuals regardless of diverse race, gender, geographic origin, ethnic background, religion, and economic status as well as mental, physical, and attitudinal capabilities.

Efficient performance under pressure:
 Veterans understand the rigors of tight schedules and limited resources. They know the critical importance of staying with a task until it is done right.

Respect for procedures: Veterans have gained a unique perspective on the value of accountability. They can grasp their place within an organizational framework, becoming responsible for subordinates’ actions to higher supervisory levels.

Technology and globalization:
 Because of their experiences in the service, veterans are usually aware of international and technical trends pertinent to business and industry. They can bring the kind of global outlook and technological savvy that all enterprises of any size need to succeed.

 Veterans know what it means to do “an honest day’s work.” Prospective employers can take advantage of a track record of integrity, often including security clearances.

Conscious of health and safety standards: Thanks to extensive training, veterans are aware of health and safety protocols both for themselves and the welfare of others. On a company level, their awareness and conscientiousness translate into protection of employees, property, and materials.

Triumph over adversity:
 In addition to dealing positively with the typical issues of personal maturity, veterans have frequently triumphed over great adversity. They likely have proven their mettle in mission critical situations demanding endurance, stamina, and flexibility.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


First Lady Announces Pledge to Hire 100K Veterans and Military Spouses by 2014

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Michelle Obama announced Thursday that U.S. business has pledged to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014, and she made a personal vow not to rest until all of the country’s 859,000 unemployed veterans have gainful employment.

The pledge supports the “Joining Forces” initiative that Obama and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, launched earlier this year.

“That’s 100,000 jobs, that’s 100,000 veterans and spouses who will have the security of a paycheck and a good career,” the first lady said. “That’s thousands of families that can rest just a little bit easier every night.”

Obama said the hiring pledge, including 5,000 positions for wounded warriors, came from two organizations: the International Franchising Association and the Military Spouse Employment Partnership. Companies such as UPS, Microsoft, Home Depot and Citi are examples of businesses participating in the pledge.

She pointed out that the announcement Thursday,  part of the Chamber’s “Hiring Our Heroes” event, is intended to be complimentary to steps that her husband, President Barack Obama, is taking to aid unemployed veterans, including a measure that passed in the Senate Thursday afternoon but has yet to pass the House of Representatives.

The first lady said the pledge “isn’t about making headlines” but rather ”upholding our sacred duty to our veterans and their families.”

“This is about who we are as individuals and as a country. This is about making sure that every person who wears our uniform knows that their fellow citizens have their backs,” she said. “We all know that there are thousands more veterans and military spouses out there looking for jobs, folks who just need a little help to connect with a hiring fair, to find a career that suits their skills.”

About 859,000 veterans are  unemployed, and the jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans is an estimated 12.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“That just doesn’t seem right, and hearing something like that, it drives me to want to do more,” Obama said. “I won’t stop, and all of the people joining me here today won’t stop. We will keep working until this wave of support reaches every single veteran and every single military family in this nation. That is my solemn promise as first lady.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama's Jobs Bill Heads to House for Approval

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The first piece of President Obama’s jobs bill has passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, and now will be sent to the House of Representatives.

By a vote of 94-1, a measure to provide tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed or disabled veterans sailed though the Senate, with only one senator voting no.

The lone "no' vote, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said from the Senate floor the bill is “good politics,” but not good policy. Citing past similar examples, he said the tax credit is not enough to increase employment.

“The government has tried offering credits to hire particular categories of people many times before,” DeMint said. “The government accounting office report studied a targeted jobs tax credit passed back in 1978. The credit was intended to encourage companies to favor the disadvantaged in hiring. But a follow-up study found that it was not effective or economical in helping the targeted group. The program was eventually allowed to expire.”

The veterans measure was attached to a House-passed bill that would repeal the imposition of three percent withholding on certain payments made to vendors by government entities such as federal government contractors.

The three percent withholding bill, the overall vehicle for the veterans measure, passed by a vote of 95-0. Not voting were Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. On both measures, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, voted present.

Snowe’s office said that although she supports the major provisions within the bill, it is the senator’s practice to vote “present” on legislation that contains the potential or appearance of association with the private business activities of her spouse.

Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called on the House to pass the bill Friday -- on Veterans Day.

The House is not in session this week and is expected to pass the bill next week. If passed, the bill will then be sent to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate to Pass First Piece of Obama's Jobs Bill

(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate will likely pass the first piece of President Obama’s jobs bill Thursday, 29 days after the failure of the overall jobs package, and 28 days after the Senate declared it would pick out parts of the bill and start passing them through.

After at least two failed attempts at passing other parts of the bill, this will be the first piece to get though the Senate.

The Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 will provide incentives to employers to make hiring veterans a priority. The bill will be tacked onto the three-percent withholding bill as an amendment to the one that the House of Representatives passed last week.

The measure would also provide a tax credit to companies of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months and a $2,400 credit for veterans who have been unemployed for more than four weeks but less than six months. If a company hires a veteran with service-connected disabilities who has been looking for a job for more than six months the company can receive a tax credit of up to $9,600.

Additionally, the legislation would ensure that all outgoing veterans receive the job training skills they need to find a job and transfer into civilian society. A Transition Assistance Program, a workshop, would be mandatory for service members moving from service to civilian life, providing help with resume writing and career counseling.

The bill will not get paid for by the controversial surtax on Americans making more than $1 million, unlike the other two pieces of the jobs bills that failed previously under Democratic insistence and Republican opposition.

Rather, the bill will be covered by existing pay-fors that have been used by previous Congresses, primarily though the extension of the current fee rate for guaranteeing Veterans Affairs home loans.

Both Republicans and Democrats expect this measure to pass overwhelmingly Thursday.

The vote on the bill will happen in the early afternoon, after a few amendments, including one counter-plan from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that likely won’t pass.

After Thursday’s portion of the jobs bill passes, it will be sent to the House of Representatives for a final vote. The House will take up the measure next week and if passes in the House, it goes to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Obama Unveils Job Search Tools for Unemployed Veterans

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama announced three initiatives Monday to help unemployed military veterans, including the issuance of a “veterans gold card” that will provide access to case management and job counseling to help in finding work.

The unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans stood at 12.1 percent in October, according to the Labor Department, a level Obama says is “not right” and “doesn’t make sense.”

“Just think about the skills these veterans have acquired, often at a very young age,” Obama said in remarks from the Rose Garden where he was flanked by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and other veterans groups. “This is exactly the kind of leadership and responsibility that every American business should be competing to attract.”

Obama said new job search tools, provided through the Labor Department using existing funds, would immediately help veterans transition to the civilian workforce, though they offer no guarantee of jobs.  Several of the resources, which Obama first discussed in a speech at Navy Yard on Aug. 5, are already in place in some form.

A so-called “veteran gold card” would allow post-9/11 veterans to receive six months of case management, skills assessments and career counseling at one of the roughly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers run by the Labor Department.  The administration says more than 200,000 unemployed veterans are eligible for the benefits.

The Labor Department has also launched two new websites:  My Next Move for Veterans, which will provide information on salaries, apprenticeships and training programs, and the Veterans Job Bank, which currently lists 500,000 job postings companies have tailored for veterans.

Obama said the steps were meant to demonstrate the urgency with which his administration is tackling the jobs crisis for veterans.

Obama also urged the Senate to approve tax breaks for businesses which hire veterans, a component of his jobs plan which the Senate is expected to take up this week.

The Returning Heroes Tax Credit would provide companies that hire unemployed veterans with a maximum credit of $5,600 per veteran.  The Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, an existing tax credit, would double for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities to a maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran.

“I expect both sides of the aisle to stand up for our veterans and vote in the affirmative,” Obama said of the upcoming Senate vote. ”There’s no good reason to oppose this bill, not one.  Our veterans did their jobs.  It’s time for Congress to do theirs.”

Republicans say, contrary to the president’s characterization, that they have been “doing their job” acting on behalf of veterans to boost their employment. The Republican-controlled House voted last month, for example, to overwhelmingly approve the Veterans Opportunity Work Act, which would provide training and job search assistance to returning veterans.  It has been stalled in the Senate.

In August, Obama announced a campaign to promote private sector hiring of veterans, setting a goal of businesses hiring 100,000 veterans by the end of 2013.  To date, more than 12,000 veterans have been hired under the initiative, according to the administration, with pledges to train or hire  25,000 more.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Takes Executive Action to Help Veterans Find Work

File photo. (The White House)(WASHINGTON) -- A day after unveiling his “We Can’t Wait” campaign, President Obama sidestepped Congress again, and announced another executive action intended to spur job growth. This measure is reportedly aimed at getting veterans back on the job.

The White House on Tuesday announced new initiatives urging Community Health Centers to hire 8,000 veterans, approximately one veteran per health center, in the next three years and expand opportunities for veterans to become physician assistants.

It should be noted that White House officials said they could not estimate how many jobs will be created through these programs.

“I think all Americans can agree that veterans shouldn’t have to fight for a job once they’ve come home from the fight overseas,” Matt Flavin, director of the Veterans, Military Families and Wounded Warrior Task Force, told reporters. “But we’ve seen from the unemployment numbers, especially for post-9/11 veterans, that the case is too many of our veterans are having to have that fight.”

The new orders are yet another step in the president’s plan to take executive action on his own to boost the economy without the need for congressional approval. Obama announced Monday a new housing plan to help homeowners refinance their mortgages and avoid foreclosure, and he's expected Wednesday to outline new rules for repaying student loans.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, however, said Republicans have already taken action to help veterans. Earlier this month, the House passed the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, which would provide education and training benefits for service members. The legislation, which was passed with bipartisan support in the House, is pending in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Extra Paycheck for Retired Soldiers

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Who wouldn't want an extra paycheck every year? For millions of retired soldiers that wish is about to come true, but not without some potential problems with the IRS.

The Department of Defense says it will change some dates when former soldiers receive their retirement pay and other benefits. Generally, the department cuts paychecks on the first day of every month. In the past, if the first day of the month fell on a weekend or holiday, the government would wait until the next business day to cut checks.

Beginning in October, that protocol will change. Instead of waiting for the end of the weekend or holiday, now the department will send checks on the last business day prior to the first of the month.
For 2011, this means two paydays will change. Checks scheduled for Oct. 3 will actually go out on Sept. 30, and those scheduled for Jan. 3, 2012 will be cut on Dec. 30, 2011.

This is mostly good news, especially for retired soldiers who have student loans, payday loans, or other types of loans set up for automatic withdrawal from their bank accounts, says Katie Savant, government relations director for the National Military Family Association.

But the change could also mean an increased tax burden, points out Joe Morrin, senior vice president of financial planning at First Command. Moving the January payment back into December means that retirees will receive 13 checks in 2011 instead of their normal 12, which means an 8.3 percent increase in taxable income.

The extra paycheck for 2012 could also increase the amount of Social Security benefits that are subject to taxation, Morrin says, which makes it even more important that retirees check in with their financial planners about the change. He also expresses concern over retirees’ Roth IRAs and potential underpayment penalties, especially for those who had a certain amount due on this year’s return and have not yet adjusted their withholdings.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Proposes Tax Credits Aimed at Getting Veterans Back to Work

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The president on Friday proposed new tax credits to encourage companies to hire the nation’s one million unemployed veterans, saying “servicemen and women need to know that America values them not simply for what they can do in uniform, but for what they can do when they come home.”

“Today we're saying to our veterans, 'You fought for us and now we're fighting for you, for the jobs and opportunities that you need to keep your families strong and to keep America competitive in the 21st century. And at a time when there is so much work to be done in this country, we need everyone's help to do it,'” the president said in a speech at the Washington Navy Yard.

The president called for a “Returning Heroes Tax Credit” ranging from $2,400 to $4,800 for companies that hire unemployed veterans and an increase in an existing tax credit for companies that hire unemployed service members with disabilities.

“The bottom line is this:  We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to give folks the economic security and opportunity they deserve.  And that begins with connecting Americans looking for work, including our veterans, with employers looking to hire,” the president said.

In addition to tax incentives, the president proposed a “reverse boot camp” to help veterans transition back into the workforce. The idea is just one concept that will be considered by a new task force working to ensure the career readiness of veterans.

“The problem is that right now we spend months preparing our men and women for life in the military, but we spend much less time preparing them for life after they get out.  So we'll devote more time on the back end, to help our veterans learn about everything from benefits to how they can translate their military training into an industry-accepted credential,” Obama said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Chamber of Commerce Offering Job Help to Veterans

US Chamber of Commerce(NEW YORK) -- As thousands of troops prepare to come home soon from Afghanistan, those who choose to leave the military may have difficulty finding work.  The unemployment rate for veterans is already well above the national average.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hopes to alleviate this by launching a nationwide campaign to find jobs for veterans.

"What we're doing is connecting employers with those veterans," Kevin Schmigel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says.

The former Marine notes that most vets make great workers, saying, "90 percent of all military occupations are directly transferable to jobs in the private sector."

Schmigel and the lobbying group are organizing a series of major job fairs for veterans that will provide advice on how to get a job.  During the events, vets will get a chance to "talk about what their skill set in the military will mean to a company," he says.

"I think they also need to take some time to sit down with people and do interviews," Schmigel adds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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