Job Initiatives Focus on Vets, Family Members

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2011 — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma yes­ter­day called on Con­gress to move quick­ly on an ini­tia­tive to offer tax cred­its to employ­ers who hire unem­ployed vet­er­ans, includ­ing those with dis­abil­i­ties.

Speak­ing yes­ter­day at the Amer­i­can Legion Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Min­neapo­lis, the pres­i­dent empha­sized the nation’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to care for its vet­er­ans.

“To get this done, I’ve pro­posed a Return­ing Heroes Tax Cred­it for com­pa­nies that hire unem­ployed vet­er­ans and a Wound­ed War­rior Tax Cred­it for com­pa­nies that hire unem­ployed vet­er­ans with a dis­abil­i­ty,” Oba­ma told the assem­bly. “When Con­gress returns from recess, this needs to be at the top of the agen­da.”

Oba­ma said he has direct­ed the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to hire more vet­er­ans. Dur­ing the past year and a half, that direc­tive has result­ed in more than 100,000 vet­er­an hires.

And, the U.S. Office of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment announced today that it has pub­lished final reg­u­la­tions to give mil­i­tary spous­es of deceased and 100-per­cent dis­abled vet­er­ans as much time as they need to apply for a fed­er­al job under the mil­i­tary spouse hir­ing author­i­ty.

“But in this tough econ­o­my, far too many of our vet­er­ans are still unem­ployed,” the pres­i­dent said yes­ter­day. “That’s why I’ve pro­posed a com­pre­hen­sive ini­tia­tive to make sure we’re tap­ping the incred­i­ble tal­ents of our vet­er­ans.”

The two-part ini­tia­tive is designed to help the newest vet­er­ans find and get pri­vate-sec­tor jobs, while pro­vid­ing tax cred­its for com­pa­nies that hire unem­ployed vet­er­ans, includ­ing those with dis­abil­i­ties, the pres­i­dent explained.

Oba­ma said he has direct­ed the Defense Depart­ment and Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs to cre­ate a “reverse boot camp” to help the newest vet­er­ans pre­pare for civil­ian jobs and trans­late their mil­i­tary skills into indus­try-accept­ed licens­es and cre­den­tials.

He also called on every state to pass laws mak­ing it eas­i­er for vet­er­ans to get the cre­den­tials, and jobs for which they qual­i­fy.

The sec­ond part of the ini­tia­tive calls on the pri­vate sec­tor to do its part. “I’ve chal­lenged com­pa­nies across Amer­i­ca to hire or train 100,000 unem­ployed vet­er­ans or their spous­es,” Oba­ma said.

This, he not­ed, builds on com­mit­ments many com­pa­nies have made as part of the Join­ing Forces cam­paign being led by First Lady Michelle Oba­ma and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden.

Salut­ing the 5 mil­lion Amer­i­cans who have served in uni­form since 9/11 as a “gen­er­a­tion of inno­va­tors” who’ve “changed the way Amer­i­ca fights and wins its wars,” Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma said yes­ter­day that vet­er­ans also are the very peo­ple the nation needs to jump-start its econ­o­my.

“After a decade of war, it’s time to focus on nation build­ing here at home,” the pres­i­dent said. “And our vet­er­ans, espe­cial­ly our ‘9/11-Gen­er­a­tion’ vet­er­ans, have the skills and the ded­i­ca­tion to help lead the way.”

“We need these vet­er­ans work­ing and con­tribut­ing and cre­at­ing the new jobs and indus­tries that will keep Amer­i­ca com­pet­i­tive in the 21st cen­tu­ry,” he said.

Oba­ma cit­ed fund­ing for the post-9/11 GI Bill that’s now help­ing more than 500,000 vet­er­ans and fam­i­ly mem­bers “go to col­lege, get their degrees and play their part in mov­ing Amer­i­ca for­ward.”

The pro­gram will expand this fall to include voca­tion­al train­ing and appren­tice­ships “so vet­er­ans can devel­op the skills to suc­ceed in today’s econ­o­my,” he said.

Mean­while, OPM’s new rule, pub­lished today, gives spec­i­fied mil­i­tary spous­es more oppor­tu­ni­ty to get gov­ern­ment jobs.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, cer­tain mil­i­tary spous­es and wid­ows or wid­ow­ers could be appoint­ed non-com­pet­i­tive­ly to a fed­er­al job with­in a lim­it­ed two-year time­frame after their spouse died or became total­ly dis­abled, OPM offi­cials explained.

How­ev­er, many spous­es were not pre­pared to enter the work­force with­in that time­frame, they said. Some were still griev­ing or were enrolled in edu­ca­tion­al or train­ing pro­grams or car­ing for chil­dren or their dis­abled spouse.

The final reg­u­la­tions rec­og­nize that two years may not be enough time for these spous­es to seek and obtain a fed­er­al job.

“Mil­i­tary spous­es make count­less sac­ri­fices for our nation through their ded­i­ca­tion and sup­port on the home front while their loved ones are serv­ing,” said OPM Direc­tor John Berry. “In recog­ni­tion of their sac­ri­fice, this rule will help mil­i­tary spous­es find employ­ment in the gov­ern­ment.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)