"Stand down veteran" is just what I would say on one special day every year. Our country celebrates Veterans Day by closing banks, government offices, and schools. It is a federal holiday intended to honor veterans of the United States Armed Forces. We give a day off to some Americans in recognition, but are we really recognizing the right people we intend to honor?
Each year, I watch my favorite veteran, former Army Sergeant Powell go to work like it's any other day of the week. On his way, he drives by closed schools; he can't get his banking done, cannot mail a letter, notices lighter traffic. But it is a regular day of work for him and most veterans... but he has a job. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for many of our country's finest. They need jobs.
Let's not forget to recognize the vets at work by giving them thanks for their service to our country. Make a positive spectacle of them. Buy them lunch, celebrate with a cake, and let them leave early, or give them the day off. Despite the fact that our federal holiday doesn't provide vets with R&R, create your own policy to recognize them but please don't disregard their service to country.
While we talk about giving veterans a holiday from work, we need to think about getting them back to work.
Veterans need our help. Based on these remarkable statistics:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 -- a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans -- was 12.1 percent in 2011. (over four percent higher than the average American) The jobless rate for all veterans was 8.3 percent.
But the young veteran (ages 18 through 24) the unemployment rate is 29.1 percent, 11.5 percent higher than the same non-military age group unemployment rate of 17.6 percent.
Stunning news and a reminder for Veterans Day: In a rare and overwhelmingly bi-partisan move in Congress, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act was passed on November 10, 2011 and is proposed to be extended for at least four years.
The purpose: improve the employment possibilities and transition from active military to civilian jobs and provide incentives to employers to hire veterans.
Provisions of the VOW Act include:
• A tax credit of up to $5,600 for hiring out of work vets unemployed for more than six months and a step down amount of $2,400 for hiring the vets unemployed for more than four weeks.
• A tax credit up to $9,600 for hiring vets with service-connected disabilities who have been unemployed for more than six months
• Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to provide career counseling
• Expands education opportunities for older veterans with up to one year of GI education benefits.
Additional reimbursements under the Special Employer Incentives (SEI) are available for employers who hire veterans including up to 50 percent of the veteran's salary for up to six months for instruction and training.
What is not to like about these initiatives? This defines the philosophy of "win-win." Now we are talking about real, meaningful initiatives that would make a difference in veterans' lives. This is a shining example of public money well spent. Employers, check out these options for assisting veterans and receive tax breaks and reimbursements for your efforts.
Don't forget, if you want to treat your favorite vet, there are many initiatives and specials offered to veterans including free national park admission, discounts at restaurants and stores. Check out The Military Wallet. They provide updates on discounts and stunning recognition, for our country's finest.
Happy Veterans Day and a personal thank you to my family, friends, and many of my students who have proudly and bravely served. And God bless the memories of the beloved fallen Americans who lost their lives in the act of defending our American freedoms.
And please remember fallen veterans, Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty and Air Force veteran Sean Smith upholding the military philosophy of "no one left behind" by their valiant attempts to save Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and our embassy in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2012.
Booyah! And never forget our veterans!