February 06, 2009

Senate Unanimously Adopts Udall Amendment to Help Unemployed Vets Find Work


WASHINGTON - An amendment authored by U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., to expand tax incentives to employers who hire veterans who have served since September 2001 has been unanimously adopted by the Senate. The initiative, which will apply to veterans who are discharged from the Armed Services from September 2001 through December 2010, and includes veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, is now a part of the economic recovery package.


When offering his amendment, Udall noted that discharged vets who served after September 2001 are finding fewer opportunities than years before.


"Those soldiers leaving the military after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving with great distinction and honor, are finding themselves back in a shrinking workforce," said Udall. "Yet, we know from study after study that these men and women have substantial capabilities in technology, in mathematics, in management, in crisis response and so many other areas that are critical to employers."


Udall also points out that the post-9/11 generation of veterans has higher rates of unemployment than all other generations of veterans.


Bureau of Labor Statistic reports that of those veterans who served in our military since September 2001, 6.1 percent were unemployed and the economy has only worsened. At the same time, the jobless rate for veterans of all eras combined was 3.8 percent in 2007.


Paul Rieckhoff, the Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, commended Udall for offering the amendment.

"Iraq veterans are returning home from combat only to face the hardest job market in decades," Rieckhoff said. "It is our patriotic duty to give all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans the chance to build a successful career in the country they risked their lives to defend. We thank Senator Tom Udall for his commitment to America's newest generation of veterans, and proudly endorse his proposal to expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to promote the hiring of any veteran who served after September 11th, 2001."


To qualify for a Work Opportunity Tax Credit employers can hire a post-9/11 veteran who has received unemployment benefits for at least four weeks in the past year.


If the employee works between 120 hours and 400 hours, the employer is eligible to receive a tax credit equal to 25 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to the employee in the taxable year. If the employee works 400 or more hours, the employer is eligible to receive a tax credit equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to the employee in the taxable year. If the employee works less than 120 hours, they are not eligible for the credit.


"Expanding the tax incentive to cover employers who hire any veteran who has served since September 11th will help ensure that we do not leave these veterans out of this recovery package. It ensures that employers are encouraged to hire these men and women and to put them back to work for our nation," Udall said.


This is the first amendment offered by the new Senator, who previously served on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and has been a strong advocate for veterans care and benefits.