President Obama has made helping veterans find civilian employment and reintegrate into our nation’s workforce and economy a top priority. In November 2011, the President signed into law the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, which provides businesses that hire unemployed veterans with a credit of up to $5,600 per veteran, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, which offers businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities a credit of up to $9,600 per veteran. The First Lady and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces Initiative has helped 90,000 veterans and military spouses find jobs. And we have developed online tools to help connect veterans to employers
The federal government has led efforts to recruit and retain individuals who have served our country in the armed forces. In Executive Order 13518, the President established the Veterans Employment Initiative to bolster recruitment and retention of veterans in the federal workforce. This initiative has been extraordinarily successful, ushering in 200,000 new veteran hires and at least 25,000 new Reservists to the federal workforce. Veterans comprise more than one-fourth (27.3% in FY2011) of the federal workforce, the highest share in 15 years. Our service members, their families, and our country all benefit from veterans’ talents, experience, and dedication.
Federal laws, including the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provide critical protections to those who have served our country, including veterans and Guard and Reserve members. To ensure that returning service members have the fair opportunity guaranteed under the law, the President and his Administration have articulated a zero-tolerance policy for USERRA violations across the federal government. Today, in order to ensure that directive is carried out, President Obama issued a Memorandum that calls on agencies across the entire federal government to intensify their efforts to ensure fair treatment and equal opportunity for service members in federal employment. Specifically, the Memorandum calls on all agencies in the federal government to:
•Identify Best Practices: The Presidential Memorandum establishes a working group of agencies that hire the greatest number of veterans and that have expertise in service members’ employment rights to identify personnel best practices. Within 180 days of the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum, the Office of Personnel Management will then issue guidance to agencies, enumerating specific steps and providing tools to improve their compliance with employment and reemployment protections for veterans and servicemembers, including improved training, information and education.
•Improve Information about those Serving in the Federal Workforce: A critical part of better serving servicemembers within the federal government is accurate data. In an era where many returning individuals have faced repeated deployments, it is critical that we have detailed information about Guard and Reserve members and their experiences. Under this Memorandum, the federal government will identify ways to improve our data collection, with a particular focus on members of the Guard and Reserve.
•Better Information and Services for those who Serve: Continued outreach and education is critical to serving veterans and members of the Guard and Reserve effectively. Agencies will ensure human resource professionals, managers, and other senior executives also have the appropriate training strategies and tools to support the employment, development and reemployment of service members in their workforce and ensure compliance with the law. Agencies will also continue to expand outreach to service members’ organizations to ensure that individuals are aware of their protections under the law, and connect service members with resources to help them prepare for military leave from federal employment and to help them integrate quickly into their agencies when they return.
Building on Progress
•Creating two new veterans’ tax credits: In November 2011, the President signed into law two new tax credits for hiring veterans, both of which were included as part of the American Jobs Act. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides an incentive of up to $5,600 for firms to hire unemployed veterans and the Wounded Warrior Tax Credit doubled the existing tax credit for long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities to $9,600.
•Challenging the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and their spouses by 2013: Since the President issued his challenge to the private sector in August 2011, more than 90,000 veterans and their spouses have already been hired and 2,100 companies have committed to hire or train 175,000 veterans and their spouses by the end of 2013 through the leadership of the First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and their Joining Forces Initiative.
•Increasing access to intensive reemployment services: Post-9/11 veterans are now able to download the Veteran Gold Card, which entitles them to enhanced reemployment services including six months of personalized case management, assessments and counseling at their local one-stop career center.
•Developing online tools to boost veteran employment: The Administration launched the Veterans Jobs Bank, an easy-to-use tool to help veterans find job postings from companies looking to hire them. It already searches over one million job postings and is growing. Additionally, the Department of Labor launched My Next Move for Veterans, a new online resource that allows veterans to enter their military occupation code and discover civilian occupations for which they are well qualified.
•Increasing hiring of veterans in healthcare-related fields: The President challenged Community Health Centers to hire 8,000 veterans – approximately one veteran per health center site – over the next three years and the Health Resources and Services Administration pledged to open up career paths beyond nursing and expand opportunities for veterans to become physician assistants.
•Streamlining civilian credentialing for service members and veterans: Last month, the Department of Defense established, under the President’s direction, a Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force, which will identify opportunities where service members can earn civilian occupational credentials and licenses without the need for additional training. As the first action of the Task Force, all branches of the military worked with manufacturing credentialing agencies to enable up to 126,000 service members to gain industry-recognized, nationally-portable certifications for high-demand manufacturing jobs.