By Vicki Needham - 08/05/11 03:35 PM EDT
Under the 2009 economic stimulus, employers who hired certain unemployed veterans were eligible for a tax credit of up to $2,400. This credit expired at the end of 2010.
The White House estimates the cost of the tax-credit program at $120 million over two years, depending on how many employers hire veterans.
The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments will develop programs to ensure that every member of the service receives the training, education and credentials they need to transition to the civilian workforce or pursue higher education.
These changes include the creation of a “reverse boot camp,” which will extend the transition period to give service members more counseling and guidance so they’re better prepared for the civilian workforce, the White House said.
About 1 million veterans are unemployed, according to the administration, including 260,000 former service members who joined the military after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Veterans were more likely to be employed in mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation and utilities, all industries that experienced significant drops in employment during the recession in 2008-2009, according to the White House.
The unemployment rate for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has hovered around 11 percent, while the jobless rate for veterans aged 20 to 24 has been as high as 27 percent.
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, more than 1 million service members are projected to leave the military between 2011 and 2016, the White House said.
Several companies, including Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, Accenture, JPMorgan and AT&T are announcing new commitments to train or hire veterans, the president said Friday.
In addition, the Labor Department will establish a new initiative to deliver an enhanced career-development and job-search service package to transitioning veterans at their local career centers.
The Office of Personnel Management will create a manual for the private sector to help businesses identify and hire veterans.
The proposal should get backing from a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers of Congress, as similar bills are already in the pipeline.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, is sponsoring a measure that has companion legislation in the House and is co-sponsored by 32 senators. It is set to be considered by the full Senate in the fall.
“The president clearly knows that getting our economy back on track and getting our veterans back to work go hand-in-hand,” Murray said in a statement. “Our veterans are disciplined, experienced, team-players with the unique expertise our employers are seeking. But we have to make sure they get their foot in the door.
“My bill will for the first time ensure that we are making the most out of the enormous investment we make in our service members.
“Instead of patting them on the back for their service and letting our veterans go into the job market alone, my bill equips them with the resources needed to help find a rewarding career.”
The bill provides for payments to employers for on-the-job training, creates new direct federal hiring authority so more service members have jobs waiting for them when they leave the military and improves veteran mentorship programs.
The measure also would require mandatory participation in the Transition Assistance Program and require the Labor Department to meet with veterans to determine their employment statuses and whether they need assistance.