Obama Signs Legislation to Fight Veteran Unemployment
President Barack Obama signed new legislation to combat unemployment among veterans recently, including a measure that provides tax credits to employers that hire unemployed veterans.
"Today, the message is simple: For businesses out there, if you are hiring, hire a veteran," the president said during remarks in the South Court Auditorium. "It's the right thing to do for you, it's the right thing to do for them, and it's the right thing to do for our economy."
In addition to providing tax credits, the Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 rolls back a law under which state and local governments would begin withholding 3 percent of payments to contractors starting in 2013.
The size of the tax credit depends on how long the hired individual has been unemployed, as well as her disability status. A company that hires a veteran who has been unemployed more than four weeks can receive a credit of up to $2,400 - or up to $5,600 for hiring a veteran who has been out of work longer than six months.
Though the overall veteran population has a lower unemployment rate than that of the American public, there is high unemployment among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - a rate which continues to rise, the president said.
Not all analysts are on board with the effort. Daniel Indiviglio argued in The Atlantic that while the legislation will help some veterans, it will only cause employers to hire veterans instead of non-veterans for jobs that they already intended to fill.
"While this may help boost the employment of veterans, it shouldn't be expected to boost hiring in general," Indiviglio wrote.
The president nodded to the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces, arguing for the need for comprehensive support services for veterans returning to civilian life.
"And just as they fight for us on the battlefield, it's up to us to fight for our troops and their families when they come home," he said. "And that's why today is such a wonderful day, because today a deeply grateful nation is doing right by our military and paying back just a little bit of what we owe to our veterans."
The president also praised Congress for passing the legislation without being derailed by partisanship - a likely nod to the difficult he has had promoting the American Jobs Act.
Employment is only one obstacle to returning veterans, who frequently struggle with homelessness and mental health challenges.
Jon Christian is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_Christian.