November 28, 2011
In his inaugural address to the nation, John F. Kennedy had so inspiringly urged all fellow Americans to: “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Were we to do so, many would lack the confidence with which veterans could answer that question, having faced wars for the country in hostile and inhospitable terrain, risking life and limb. Having miraculously survived the ordeal, those that return to civilian life are hampered by the fact that their unique skills and experience are not required or valued by the job market. This is why the Obama administration has taken up the task of fighting the 12% unemployment rate of veterans; whether they fought in Iraq and Afghanistan or Vietnam, through the recent ‘Vow to Hire Heroes Act’, on a priority basis.
Heard of the veteran of two Iraqi tours who served as a Hospital Corpsman handling duties equivalent to a registered nurse; acquiring skills and experience in the medical field, had to become a hospital janitor? Instances like this make it clear that corrective action is the need of the hour. The need for the legislation arose mainly because skills, training and experience acquired in military service are usually not recognized or licensed for use in a civilian context, forcing the veterans to acquire suitable training and license through duplicated learning efforts at high cost. When these issues are compounded by an uncertain economy, the rate of unemployment among veterans has grown 25% higher than general unemployment, causing huge concern. Efforts are now on to pro-actively measure the way skills acquired in the military being transitioned to civilian life, and provide the Transition Assistance Program to all separating service members, in close mutually co-operative efforts between the various Departments handling Defense, Labor and Veteran Affairs.
This effort can receive the fillip it requires if industry could meet it halfway by sharing important information on job requirements and skills with these entities and by agreeing to recognize skills imparted by military training and providing inputs on further education and training required, as necessary. It is easy to mouth a whole lot of patriotic and motivating words about the sacrifices made by these veterans, and how they deserve just returns on their selfless and honorable service to the nation. But then, companies are also serving the nation by creating employment and they too have an obligation to decide what is in the best interests of their companies, their stakeholders and bottom lines – in no particular order.
So, why should companies pitch in to hire the heroes?
- These veterans will come out with necessary training in skills required by today’s employers.
- The strict training imparted by military training and work experience would make it a certainty that any veteran would bring the following personality attributes to the job and employers who need such qualities will find them to be invaluable assets:
- A high amount of discipline
- Dependability and punctuality
- Value-based attributes like integrity and character
- Leadership qualities
- The VOW to hire Heroes act offers employers tax credits, ranging from $2400 all the way to $9600, for hiring unemployed veterans.
- Employers with existing tax credits will get enhancements for hiring veterans who were disabled in service.
The multi-agency program named Transition Assistance Program also provides additional benefits to veterans to facilitate their taking up further education plans or training programs. Community Health centers, across the country, were requested to hire at least one veteran each. The initiative firmly ropes in the leaders of private industry and the final touch is provided by the stipulation that the effect of the measures get measured though metrics. It looks like all the ingredients for a successful campaign have been put in place, and we will have to wait for the results on this one.
The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.