My grandfather served in World War II and my father served in Vietnam. I on the other hand, served in no wars, making me itch for ways to give back. I feel a little unworthy as so many brave men and women each year serve to protect us back home. Perhaps bringing to light Veteran issues on this platform can help.
It’s a shocker to discover there are over 130,000 homeless veterans in America today (new reports show the figure is down by 48% since 2008 to roughly 62,000). It’s also a big disappointment to read our troops struggling to find work when they return. When a representative on behalf of Jeep contacted me to sponsor this post as we wait for the resolution of the Fiscal Cliff, I happily obliged in order to continue raising awareness. The original Jeep Bantam BRC became the primary light 4-wheel-drive vehicle of the United States Army and Allies during World War II.
In the Spring of 2012, President Obama proposed the Veterans Jobs Corps Act. The price tag for such help came at an additional $1 billion dollars a year for the already $109 billion VA budget for 2013. Does $1 billion or even $110 billion sound like a lot? It depends, given we spent $1 trillion fighting in Iraq and $3-$4 trillion if we include our fights in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Suddenly, spending 1/40th the amount we spent on three wars to help our soldiers doesn’t seem like much at all. What the spending ratio tells me is that there is a way for the US government to do more if they choose. Here is some information from WhiteHouse.gov on what they are doing for Veterans.
THE VETERANS JOBS CORPS
• Provide incentives to hire veterans as first responders: The President announced $166 million in 2012 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Grant funding and $320 million in 2012 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants.
• Provide veterans to protect Americans as first responders and law enforcement officers: Hiring veterans as police officers and firefighters is synergistic with Veteran military training.
• Puts veterans to work preserving and restoring America’s land and resources: The President proposed $1 billion to develop a Veterans Job Corps conservation program that will put up to 20,000 veterans back to work over the next five years protecting and rebuilding America.
• Supports veteran entrepreneurship by building our next generation of small business leaders: An expansion of entrepreneurship training opportunities for separating service members and veterans.
Initiatives So Far
• Created two new veterans’ tax credits: In November 2011, the President signed into law two new tax credits for hiring veterans, both of which were included as part of the American Jobs Act. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides an incentive of up to $5,600 for firms to hire unemployed veterans and the Wounded Warrior Tax Credit doubled the existing tax credit for long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities to $9,600.
• Challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and their spouses by 2013: Since the President issued his challenge to the private sector in August 2011, more than 40,000 veterans and the spouses have been hired and 1,500 companies have committed to hire or train 135,000 veterans and their spouses by the end of 2013. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden are leading the initiative.
• Increased access to intensive reemployment services: Post-9/11 veterans are now able to download the Veteran Gold Card, which entitles them to enhanced reemployment services including six months of personalized case management, assessments and counseling at the roughly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers located across the country. This will help serve the 250,000 unemployed Post-9/11 veterans.
• Developed online tools to boost veteran employment: The Administration launched the Veterans Jobs Bank, an easy to use tool to help veterans find job postings from companies looking to hire them. It already searches over one million job postings and is growing.
It certainly seems like the President is taking a proactive approach in helping our Veterans!
Unfortunately, the Veterans Job Corps Act died in the Senate Wednesday, Sept 17 on a procedural vote when 40 senators balked at the $1 billion price tag for a measure that would have provided employment for veterans in conservation work, in Veterans Affairs Department cemeteries, and helped in police and fire departments. Opposers said the bill was in violation of the Budget Control Act, prohibiting new programs that would add to the deficit.
As we head into 2013, it’s important we are all aware that the government seems unable to optimize the existing VA budget or spend more money on our Veterans. Hence, it’s up to the private sector, who creates the most jobs for our economy, to help where they can. I’m more than wiling to hire a Veteran for freelance writing, design, or technical work here at Financial Samurai, so please let me know if you’re interested.
Next up is a recap of my 2012 predictions. I’ve been waiting until Dec 31 because my S&P 500 market prediction depends on a last minute federal budget agreement. Enjoy the video.