Casey: Give a veteran a job

By:  Dave Thompson

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, is going to bat for out-of-work veterans.

On Wednesday, he held a teleconference to discuss the Vow to Hire Heroes Act, which would provide job training for unemployed veterans and provide tax credits for businesses that hire them.

According to Casey, the legislation would provide businesses a tax credit of up to $2,400 for hiring a veteran who has been searching for work for more than four weeks but less than six months, $5,600 for hiring a veteran looking for work for at least six months, and $9,600 for hiring a veteran with a service-connected disability who has been looking for work for at least six months.

The legislation also makes the Transition Assistance Program, which provides resume writing and career counseling services to veterans, available to a wider range of veterans, and expands education and training benefits for older veterans.

There are about 100,000 unemployed veterans in Pennsylvania, Casey said.

"When you consider the sacrifices veterans and their families made for our country, I think it obligates all of us to help them into the job market," he said.

Casey said a debt of gratitude is owed the nation's veterans, but veterans need more than praise and thanks.

It is common for people to pray for the well-being of veterans, but people also need to pray that they can be worthy of their sacrifices, he said.

The Vow to Hire Heroes Act is one of the ways in which that can be done, he added.

"They need us to take action," he said. "That is why this legislation is vitally important."

Casey said unemployment among veterans in Pennsylvania is more than 12 percent, compared to the national average of 9 percent and state average of 8.3 percent.

The legislation is "something we can do right now to help vets find jobs," he said.

Casey said veterans have a good work ethic and are skilled at taking on complicated assignments under stressful conditions.

"I think employers certainly want to hire veterans and I think these incentives will help them do that," he said.

Casey said the number of unemployed veterans probably will increase as troops are drawn down in Iraq. Due to the condition of the economy, it will be difficult for them to find jobs, he said.

The legislation has bipartisan support in both the Senate and House, and that is a far cry from how business usually is done in Washington, Casey said.