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WASHINGTON -- It might come as a surprise to some that veterans returning from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan are now suffering significantly higher unemployment than the general population. Now, some veterans’ organizations are looking to small and midsize companies to help fill the gap.
"Veterans have a whole array of qualities that they developed through service in the military that make them valuable to businesses," said Dr. Ray Healey, cofounder and executive director of Veterans Across America. "It's well established and well known they possess leadership, initiative and drive. The ability to work as a team member is also enormously important, and that's one of the key things that emerges."
Hiring vets now, Healey underscores, is also good business. Not only do many states provide tax breaks for companies who hire them, an amendment to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 also provides tax benefits to those firms hiring vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Authored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), the amendment passed the Senate by a unanimous vote.
Udall's act expands work opportunity tax credit to unemployed veterans and disconnected youth. Under the WOTC program, employers can hire a post-9/11 veteran who has received unemployment benefits for at least four weeks in the past year. If the employee works between 120 and 400 hours, the employer is eligible to receive a tax credit equal to 25% of the first $6,000 of wages paid to the employee in the taxable year. If the employee works 400 or more hours, the employer could receive a credit equal to 40% of the first $6,000 for the year.
"Those soldiers leaving the military after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving with great distinction and honor, are finding themselves back in a shrinking workforce," said Udall. "Yet, we know from study after study that these men and women have substantial capabilities in technology, in mathematics, in management, in crisis response and so many other areas that are critical to employers."
Additional information can be had from any Department of Veterans Affairs office or Dr. Ray Healey at (212) 684-1122