As the nation prepares to memorialize the service and sacrifices of America’s military service members, Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett introduced legislation today in the U.S. House of Representatives to encourage small business employers around the country to hire veterans who have served in the National Guard and Ready Reserve.
“Introducing the Hire-A-Hero Act is necessary, in part, because we owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans—particularly the men and women of our National Guard – who continue to selflessly sacrifice in defense of our homeland, whether it’s here at home or on distant shores. But it’s also important to remember that too many of our returning veterans are having great difficulty transitioning from military service back to civilian life in our communities. Their needs have not been adequately addressed and, unfortunately, joblessness is, quite frankly, unacceptable,” Plaskett said.
Plaskett said that although the veteran unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level since 2008, the unemployment rate for post 9/11 veterans—the group most affected by joblessness—remains higher than the national average.
“These are highly trained, well qualified individuals who can add tremendous value to an employer’s workforce,” said Plaskett.
Plaskett’s Hire-A-Hero Act will amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow employers a work opportunity tax credit (WOTC) for hiring a member of the National Guard or Ready Reserve, and make the WOTC credit permanent with respect to the hiring of qualified veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve Component.
The Hire-A-Hero Act of 2015 has received strong support from the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). In a letter to Congresswoman Plaskett, Major General Gus Hargett, USA (Ret.), President of NGAUS said, “On behalf of the more than 45,000 members of the National Guard Association and the nearly 500,000 soldiers and airmen of the National Guard thank you for your commitment to the members of the National Guard and thanks for your leadership.”
LTC Brian O'Reilly, Legislative Liaison of the National Guard Association of the United States- Virgin Islands ( NGAUS-VI) said he “supports the Work opportunity Tax Credit initiative, because it provides an attractive incentive for employers to seek out National Guard and Reservist in their hiring process. Military members entering into the workforce are fully equipped with a disciplined work ethic and organizational skills that add value to any business or organization”
According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for post 9/11 veterans is 7.2 percent, compared to the national average, which stands at 5.4 percent.
Plaskett is a member of the House National Guard and Reserve Caucus and cosponsored legislation earlier this year to ensure Veterans access to health care. H.R. 572, Veterans Access to Community Care Act 2015 was introduced to ensure Veterans could access private healthcare regardless if the VA medical facility could provide the services to a Veteran.
In March, the VA announced it would expand program eligibility to make access to care easier for Veterans living more than 40 miles away from a VA medical facility.