Vt., federal plans could aid veterans in battle to find jobs at home
BARRE, Vt. — For some veterans who are returning home, a new battle awaits: finding work.
But a measure being introduced by US Representative Peter Welch would give them a leg up on finding jobs, providing a $2,400 tax credit to employers who hire veterans who have been jobless for at least four weeks.
The bill, which will be introduced today, would apply to companies that hire veterans who have served on active duty or in the National Guard for more than 180 days in the past five years. It would restore a similar tax credit that was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act but expired at the end of 2010.
In Vermont, it has particular appeal. Members of the Vermont National Guard are still getting used to the home front after a yearlong deployment that saw about 1,500 ship out to Afghanistan. With the state’s jobless rate at 5.8 percent as of December, finding work has not been easy.
According to the Guard’s commander, Major General Michael Dubie, up to 30 percent of the soldiers involved in that deployment reported — in a survey taken as they prepared to return — not having jobs back home.
Among them: Richard Sugai, 26, of Berlin, who returned in December after having served as an intelligence analyst in the Afghanistan deployment. He is looking for work in law enforcement, “but it’s slim pickings,’’ he said yesterday.
Welch announced his initiative in an appearance at a Granite Industries of Vermont granite shed in Barre.
“Our soldiers are excellent employees,’’ said Welch, a Democrat. “They’re hard workers. They have tremendous skills. They have a strong work ethic. But it’s a tough economic time that they’re coming home to.’’
The tax credit, Welch said, would be designed to give employers the boost they need to decide to hire and look favorably on veterans.
The state is working on similar proposed legislation.
Under a jobs plan unveiled last week by Governor Peter Shumlin, employers who hire veterans would be able to apply for a tax rebate of up to $2,000. But that measure is aimed at a narrower pool of potential hires, those who have returned from deployment in the last couple of years, said Lawrence Miller, secretary of the state Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
Neither the Welch tax credit nor the state tax rebate has been approved.
“I’d like to ask all employers not to wait for our legislation, though,’’ Miller said.