WASHINGTON — Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Since that time many men and women have come to the defense of the nation, but when they return from military service, they can have difficulty finding employment. President Obama has announced new initiatives to help returning military veterans find jobs.

Uncle Sam Wants You … to Hire a Veteran

The president proposed tax credits for companies hiring veterans, announced a new task force to help service members transition to civilian jobs or higher education, and challenged businesses to hire more veterans.

As of June, a million veterans were unemployed, and the jobless rate for post-9/11 vets was 13.3 percent, said administration officials. Another million veterans are projected to return to the civilian workforce over the next five years.

Obama cited a former combat medic as one example of a veteran who had difficulty transferring his military training to the civilian job market.

Nick Colgin deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic with the 82nd Airborne Division, the president said. During his tour, Colgin saved the life of a French soldier who was shot in the head, and helped 42 people escape from a flooding river.

“He earned a Bronze Star for his actions,” Obama said. “But when Nick got back home to Wyoming, he couldn’t get a job as a first responder.”

Colgin had to take classes he easily could have taught, said the president, before he could get a civilian job with the same duties he performed daily in Afghanistan.

“If you can save a life in Afghanistan, you can save a life in an ambulance in Wyoming,” said Obama.

Programs Announced

Administration officials said a new task force, led by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, will develop such initiatives as a “reverse boot camp,” to ensure service members receive the training, education, and credentials they need to transition to the civilian workforce or to pursue higher education.

The Labor Department will establish centers to deliver career development and job search services to transitioning veterans, administration officials said.

“But that’s only part of the equation. The other half is about encouraging companies to do their part,” Obama said.

As incentive to hire veterans, the president proposed a new “Returning Heroes” tax credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans, and an increase in the existing tax credit for hiring disabled veterans.

The Returning Heroes credit would offer a maximum of $2,400 for every short-term and $4,800 for every long-term unemployed veteran hire, officials said.

A “Wounded Warriors” tax credit would increase the existing credit for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been unemployed for six months or more to a maximum of $9,600 per veteran, and up to $4,800 for all other veterans with a service-connected disability, officials added.

“Finally, we’re challenging the private sector to hire or train 100,000 unemployed post-9/11 veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013,” the president said.

“Today we’re saying to our veterans, ‘You fought for us, and now we’re fighting for you.’”

Publication date: 09/12/2011