On November 21, President Obama signed into law the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-56); legislation to encourage the hiring of military veterans. SHRM and other organizations have advocated for several of the changes to the various programs supporting veterans' employment that were included in the legislation.
Key provisions of interest to HR professionals:
- Requires individuals separating from the military and their spouse to participate in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). The current TAP program is voluntary for separating military personal.
- Directs the federal government to enter into agreements with private organizations and others to provide job training assistance and develop apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship programs that provides veterans with the education, training, and services necessary to transition to meaningful employment.
- Creates a two-year demonstration program in the Department of Labor on the credentialing and licensing of veterans for specific civilian occupations.
- Provides a new hiring credit called the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Credit as an incentive to hire unemployed veterans. The VOW Act provides a credit of 40 percent of the first $6,000 in wages (up to $2,400) for employers that hire veterans unemployed for at least 4 weeks and credit of up to 40 percent of the first $14,000 of wages (up to $5,600) for veterans who have been unemployed for at least 6 months.
- Maintains and doubles the existing Wounded Warriors Opportunity Tax Credit, increasing the value of the tax credit from $4,800 to $9,600 for veterans who have been unemployed for 6 months and have a service-connected disability.
In addition, the VOW Act also made changes to the tax code to allow qualified 501(c) tax exempt organizations to claims these credits against the employer portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax.