Gabbard-Cook Bill to Incentivize Hiring Veterans Passes House

February 13, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC—The HIRE Vets Act (H.R.244), introduced by Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Paul Cook (CA-08), passed the House today by a vote of 409-1. The bipartisan legislation would incentivize employers to hire veterans, and recognize employers that provide a supportive work environment to retain veteran employees. The legislation now moves to the U.S. Senate. 

Video of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s speech on the HIRE Vets Act is available here

In a speech on the House floor, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:

“I’m standing in strong support of H.R.244—the HIRE Vets act—which I’m so proud and honored to have worked on with my colleague and fellow veteran, Col. Paul Cook from California. 

“This is personal for us. This is about our brothers and sisters in uniform from different generations, who have been honored and thanked for their service in uniform, but unfortunately are often forgotten about when they lay that uniform down.

“Most people aren’t aware that every single day, roughly 500 veterans are transitioning from military life to civilian life, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans who have returned home since 9/11 alone. Through their service and training, these are men and women who are highly trained, have experience leading and making decisions under pressure, acting and working well as a member of a team, and accomplishing the mission. 

“Data shows that veterans are civic assets in our communities. They have higher rates of voting, engaging with local governments and community organizations, participating actively in community service, and more. 

“Together, these qualities make our veterans especially valuable to employers, whether in private sector, the public sector, or the non-profit sector. 

“Unfortunately, returning to the civilian job market is not as easy as it should be. Veterans often face an unfriendly job market or an unfriendly culture that does not fully understand them and what they bring to the table. Many people don't understand that our veterans are not seeking pity or a handout—they are simply looking for an opportunity to continue to serve and to continue to contribute to our communities and our country. 

“This legislation is focused on encouraging employers to hire more veterans. We’ve seen different programs and initiatives in my home state of Hawaiʻi and in states across the country that focus on recruiting and retaining veterans, but the fact is there are still more than 400,000 unemployed veterans across the country. We need to do more. 
 
“This legislation—the HIRE Vets Act—gets directly at this need by setting up an incentive system to encourage employers to hire and retain veterans. It creates a standard of recognition for employers who go the extra mile, to recruit and retain veterans and provide services that support our veteran community. We came together at the end of last year and passed this legislation unanimously, and I’m hopeful that my colleagues will once again pass this important legislation, and move it along through the Senate and to the President’s desk for his signature.”  

Background: The HIRE Vets would create an award program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans. Cook and Gabbard designed the program to be self-funded. 
 
Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a four-tiered system – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum – associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.

The program also establishes similar tiered awards for small and mid-sized businesses with less than 500 employees. To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results.  

 

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