The nation rejoiced when President Obama declared that thousands of troops on duty in Iraq will be home for the holidays. But the reality is that when many of these soldiers reach our shores, they’ll be met with their next battle: finding a job.
Today, during a Rose Garden address, Obama announced a two-fold plan aimed at providing vets with the job assistance they need. He’s pressuring Congress to pass a measure to give tax credits to employers who hire veterans, and he’s touting special services to connect vets with jobs that meet their particular skill sets.
But these provisions of the American Jobs Act were rejected by Congress before. The administration focused their displeasure solely on Republicans during an on-the-record conference call with reporters Monday.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “This week the Senate will consider provisions that will help our economy, help veterans and help our heroes. The question today for Republicans in the Senate is that whether they will block even this measure or will they relent?”
The president said that while 350,000 private sector jobs have been added over the last 90 days, nearly a million vets remain on the unemployment rolls. “That’s not right. It doesn’t make sense — not for our veterans, not for our families, not for America — and we’re determined to change that,” he said.
Obama told the story of the combat medic in Afghanistan who, although he saved lives abroad and had earned a Bronze Star, couldn’t find work as a first responder.
So this week, Congress will consider two tax credits aimed at boosting employment among servicemen and women:
*Returning Heroes Tax Credit: would give businesses a tax break for each unemployed veteran they hire.
*Wounded Warriors Tax Credit: would give businesses an even larger tax break for hiring an unemployed veteran with a disability.
The president also announced the newest elements of his “Why We Can’t Wait Campaign” with the introduction of three new tools to aid servicemen looking for work:
*Veterans Gold Card: provides job search services for six months.
*My Next Move: an online tool which matches a vet’s qualifications with civilian jobs.
*Veterans Job Bank: an online service where employers tag job postings for vets using major search engines.
Speaking of the new measures, Obama warned, “If Congress does not act, I will.”
(Photo: Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT/Landov)