President Obama reaffirms White House Commitment to Veteran, Wounded Warrior Employment

President Barack Obama speaks about the economy and the Administration's efforts to prepare our nation's veterans for the workforce during a statement at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. August 5, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Proving once again that employment of wounded warriors and veterans is a top priority at the top levels of the government, President Obama announced earlier this month two tax credits designed to incentivize private sector companies to become partners in the critical work of getting warriors and veterans off the unemployment roll and onto the payroll.

The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides tax credits to firms that hire unemployed veterans, with a maximum credit of $2,400 for short-term unemployed hires and employment and a maximum credit of $4,800 for long-term unemployed hires.

The Wounded Warriors Tax Credit will increase existing tax credits for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been unemployed long-term, with a maximum credit of $9,000 per veteran. This tax credit will also continue the existing credit for all other veterans with a service-connected disability, up to $4,800 per veteran.

During his announcement of the new tax credits at the Navy Yard, President Obama commended the Service men and women these incentives are designed to help.

“Today, nearly 3 million extra ordinary Service members like you have completed their service and made the transition back to civilian life,” he said. “They’ve taken their leadership experience, their mastery of cutting-edge technologies, their ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and they’ve become leaders here at home. Just think about how many veterans have led their comrades on life-and-death missions by the time they were 25 years old. That’s the kind of responsibility and experience that any business in America should want to take advantage of.”

But, President Obama recognized, even with their unique experience and leadership skills, wounded warriors and veterans often struggle to find meaningful employment in the civilian sector, to the detriment of both the Service member and the American economy.

“If you can save a life in Afghanistan, you can save a life in an ambulance in Wyoming. If you can oversee millions of dollars of assets in Iraq, you can help a business balance its books here at home,” President Obama said. “Our incredible Service men and women need to know that America values them not simply for what they can do in uniform, but for what they can do when they come home. We need them to keep making America strong.”

In addition to the two tax credits, President Obama also introduced a “reverse boot camp” concept. When taken together, these two initiatives should help bridge the gap between veterans looking for work and companies looking for people to hire. “Reverse boot camp” will be a joint effort between the DoD and VA to devote more time on the back-end, as Service members prepare to transition, to help transitioning Service members and veterans learn about everything from benefits to how to translate military training into civilian language.

President Obama closed his remarks by once again inviting the private sector to become a partner in these efforts with a challenge to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 unemployed post-9/11 veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013. This challenge builds on the commitment many companies and organizations have already made as part of the Joining Forces initiative, championed by Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.

“Over the last few years, another generation of young veterans has learned that the challenges don’t end in Kandahar or Baghdad,” President Obama said. “They continue right here at home. Today, we’re saying to our veterans, you fought for us, and now we’re fighting for you—for the jobs and the opportunities you need to keep your families strong and to keep America competitive in the 21st century. And at a time when there is so much work to be done in this country, we need everyone’s help to do it.”

To learn more about WWCTP’s efforts to support the President’s priority for smooth transitions and improved employment outcomes for wounded warriors and veterans, stay tuned to our blog or visit the Transition Assistance Program homepage.