Thursday, February 23, 2012

Senate Leaders, Lt. Governor Wyman, Commissioner Schwartz: Combat Veterans Should be Welcomed Home with a Job (release)

For veterans who risked their lives on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, State Senate Democrats want to welcome these brave soldiers back to Connecticut with the prospect of a job.
Today, Senate Democrat leaders, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, and state Department of Veteran Affairs Commissioner Linda S. Schwartz stood with veterans in Minuteman Park, across from the state’s Armory, to call for passage of proposed jobs legislation that would specifically benefit veterans.
“These brave men and women who gave selflessly for their country deserve a fair shot at achieving the American dream,” Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “This bill would boost job opportunities for returning combat veterans and give them a chance to use their skills and talents in the Connecticut workforce.”
A critical component of the jobs legislation proposed this session, the “STEP-Up for Veterans” initiative seeks to reverse the trend of disproportionately high unemployment among young veterans by connecting them with meaningful employment upon their return. Specifically, the bill would make any Connecticut-based business that hires an unemployed combat veteran who served in Iraq or Afghanistan eligible to receive a grant of up to six months of that veteran’s salary and training costs, up to $12,000 per soldier. The legislation proposes an additional $10 million in bonding to fund the program.
“For thousands of our military men and women here in Connecticut, deployment has meant many months away from their families, their jobs – their lives,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. “I strongly believe that they deserve our support not only when they are in uniform, but when they return home. Programs like this – along with the tax credit for hiring veterans passed last year – are a great way to lend a hand to those who sacrificed so much for us.”
The problem of unemployment among military veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan is particularly pronounced in youth populations. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that 30 percent of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed; double the rate of their non-military peers.
"As America gets ready to welcome back over one million veterans now in uniform as part of the drawdown of our armed forces, the main challenge is to find meaningful and productive job opportunities for these fine men and women,” Commissioner Schwartz said.
“I am deeply troubled by the unemployment problem that plagues many of our veterans. It is simply unacceptable,” said Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn). “We need to act quickly to pass this legislation and, by doing so, send a strong message that we support our veterans and are determined to help them find jobs.”
“Over the coming months, thousands of combat veterans will be returning to Connecticut from Iraq and Afghanistan. These heroes will need good paying jobs, but unemployment is already too high among veterans here at home. Our proposal this year is to give businesses an incentive to hire veterans first by looking to pay their salary and training costs for six months. We need to look at all available options to prepare for the influx of our returning service men and women to our state,” Senator Carlo Leone (D – Stamford), Co-chair of the Veterans Committee.
The STEP-Up for Veterans initiative is part of the Democrats’ proposed five-point plan that builds on the landmark jobs legislation passed during the October Special Session. Included in that comprehensive bill was an incentive program that offered tax credits for new hires, including additional credits for hiring unemployed people and veterans.


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