Editor's Note - The following guest article was written by Massachusetts Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray. AIM is part of an administration initiative to find employment opportunities for military veterans.
Massachusetts leads the nation in providing services for veterans and military families thanks to the strong commitment of our taxpayers, policy makers and advocates. During the month of November attention is given to honor our brave military servicemen and women. However, as citizens of this Commonwealth and this country, we have a collective obligation to support our veterans throughout the year.
As the chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services in Massachusetts, the Council has worked with our Department of Veterans’ Services over the last five years to review and access our current programs, and to always seek new, innovative ways to do more for our veterans.
It is critical that veterans receive re-employment and training opportunities as part of the range of services we provide when they transition home. With 385,000 veterans currently residing in Massachusetts and an influx of veterans expected to return home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Governor Patrick and I have asked the business community to consider hiring veterans for open positions and educating employers about the value of hiring a veteran.
Unfortunately, we see unemployment among veterans disproportionately higher than the civilian population and not enough companies are aware of available tax credits to hire veterans. Yet, veterans have bravely served our country and are proven to be reliable, diligent, and always ready to get the job done.
In early November, Associated Industries of Massachusetts joined the Patrick-Murray Administration and other business groups and associations to encourage their members to hire veterans in Massachusetts. Our Administration thanks the AIM Board of Directors and AIM staff for working with us on this important initiative.
Through the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, our administration is committed to working with AIM and its members to educate employers about the benefits of hiring veterans and also inform its members about what the state is doing to encourage the hiring of veterans.
Benefits of Hiring Massachusetts Veterans:
- Hiring a veteran can reduce a company’s health care costs if the veteran is already covered by his or her VA Healthcare.
- Companies may be eligible to participate in the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program, which helps individuals who qualify as members of a target group to get a job, and it helps employers who hire qualified individuals by giving them a credit on their federal taxes.
- Companies may soon become eligible for additional tax incentives for hiring veterans. On Veterans Day, the U.S. Senate approved two federal tax credit provisions that were originally included in President Obama’s American Jobs Act. These provisions will incentivize businesses to hire veterans by providing tax credits up to $5,600 for businesses that hire veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months and up to $9,600 for hiring veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months. This legislation also expands educational and training opportunities for older veterans and provides disabled veterans up to one year of additional vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits.
Massachusetts’ Role in Supporting and Hiring Veterans:
While we are working with the private sector to support the hiring of more veterans, the Patrick-Murray Administration is also leading by example by implementing a series of initiatives to encourage the hiring of veterans in Massachusetts:
- Governor Patrick and I will propose up to $2.86 million in additional funding in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, including $500,000 in funding for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership to train and employ veterans who qualify for state benefits.
- Governor Patrick and I directed our Secretary of Administration and Finance and the Commonwealth’s Chief Human Resources Officer to establish an interagency task force with our Secretary of Veterans’ Services to review all Commonwealth hiring guidelines and policies to foster increased employment opportunities for our veterans within all secretariats and levels of state government.
- Governor Patrick and I created a Veterans’ Re-Employment and Training sub-committee of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services.
With more military servicemen and women expected to return home, there will be an increased need for services and we need to do our part to ensure veterans are aware of these services.
In addition to financial benefits for hiring veterans, there is a range of available resources such as health and human services, housing, and education. All 351 cities and towns are required to have a Veteran Service Office working in the municipality to inform the community of these services, and the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services (www.mass.gov/veterans) is also an available resource.
By working together, we can raise awareness of available resources and benefits Massachusetts veterans and their families have earned and help get our veterans back to work.
Associated Industries of Massachusetts has joined a Patrick Administration initiative to promote the hiring of veterans by Bay State employers.
The initiative announced yesterday at the State House includes $500,000 in Fiscal Year 2013 to train veterans through the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s Mobile Outreach Skills Training (M.O.S.T.) program. MassMEP also plans to immediately use $200,000 in existing state funds to offer a new training class for veterans during this fiscal year.
“AIM and the business community are honored to work with the administration to support the hiring of veterans,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.
“At a time when many Massachusetts employers are struggling to find qualified workers, people returning from military service provide just the kind of experience that can help any business. These returning heroes know how to get up in the morning, show up on time and get the job done.”
Governor Patrick declared November “Hire a Veteran Month” and announced the formation of an inter-agency task force to help state government increase its hiring of veterans. The administration will also offer Massachusetts businesses an option to post an official state logo designating the company as a “Proud Employer of Massachusetts Veterans,” if the company employs a certain percentage of veterans.
“By partnering with the business community, we can encourage and increase the hiring of more Massachusetts veterans, including those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Patrick said.
The initiative comes as unemployment rates for post 9-11 veterans continue to run higher than for non-veterans. The current jobless rate for returning veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 is 21.1 percent, more than double the rate for the overall population. Economists fear those numbers may deteriorate as the United States ends operations on Iraq and large numbers of military personnel return to civilian life.
Jack Healy, Director of Operations for MassMEP, said training is key to addressing the problem.
“This high percentage of unemployment is due partly to stereotyping veterans’ fitness for employment, such as inadequate technology skills and lack of education. M.O.S.T. training helps veterans overcome such stereotypes and equips them to fill unmet skills needs in our advanced manufacturing sector.”
Other business groups supporting the veterans’ initiative include the Massachusetts Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (MACCE), the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, the Mass High Tech Council, the Defense Technology Initiative, and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts
AIM looks forward to providing more information about the initiative in the coming weeks.
Employers with questions about hiring veterans may contact the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veteran’s Services (www.mass.gov/veterans), their local One-Stop Career Center, or AIM.