President Barack Obama issued three executive orders aimed at helping veterans find jobs and pressed Congress to pass tax credits for businesses that hire former members of the military.
Four days before the Veterans Day U.S. holiday, Obama said military members returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have unique and valuable skills, yet still are having a difficult time finding jobs.
Veterans have the kind of experience “that every American business should be competing to attract,” Obama said today at the White House Rose Garden. “These are the kinds of Americans that every company should want to hire.”
Today’s event and the executive orders are part of the president’s campaign to put pressure on Republican lawmakers who have blocked his jobs initiative and demonstrate action on trimming the nation’s 9 percent unemployment rate.
The unemployment rate for military veterans who joined the service since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was 12.1 percent in October, according to the Labor Department.
Obama announced creation of a “Veteran Gold Card,” a downloadable document for post-Sept. 11 veterans entitling them to six months of case management and counseling at 3,000 Labor Department-operated career centers across the country. The action may benefit as many at 200,000 jobless veterans, according to Danielle Gray, deputy director of the National Economic Council at the White House.
“We really believe that this will help these young men and women receive the tools they need to navigate a difficult labor market,” Gray said in a conference call with reporters.
Under the orders, the department is also creating a website that would match a veteran’s military occupation with civilian jobs, including information about salaries and apprenticeships and creation of job bank to help veterans find job postings from companies looking to hire them. The website has more than 500,000 job listings, said Aneesh Chopra, the government’s chief technology officer, on the conference call.
The veterans-related services can be accessed at www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces/resources.
The president met with U.S. veterans organizations including the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars to advise them of his directives.
The latest actions are part of the administration’s “We Can’t Wait” campaign to press Congress about action to create jobs, aimed mostly at Republicans who’ve been blocking much of Obama’s $447 billion jobs package.
Two elements of his plan are scheduled for Senate consideration this week.
The $447 billion program includes a proposal to grant companies who hire unemployed veterans a maximum credit of $5,600 per veteran. Another proposal would offer firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities a maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran.
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said the chamber is taking up this week “an even broader” package of legislation for veterans.
Senate Republicans have been urging Democratic leaders to bring to a vote those bills “that have bipartisan support, without the tax hikes that led to bipartisan opposition,” Stewart said in an e-mailed statement.