Obama steps up veterans hiring efforts

The pivot to jobs that President Obama promised on Tuesday when he hailed the passage of the debt-ceiling deal began on Friday when he headed to the Washington Navy Yard to unveil a series of measures to spur hiring of the nearly 1 million unemployed veterans.

The president will call on the private sector to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013, with some government encouragement. That includes two tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed veterans, task forces to develop veterans' education and job-training reforms, and the creation of a "reverse boot camp" to lengthen the transition period to help service members return to civilian life and prepare for a career.

"The president feels that our veterans who have served the country, put their life on the line, coming into a difficult labor market deserve all the support we as a country can give them to find new careers and new private-sector job opportunities that will allow them to have economic security for themselves and their families," an administration official told reporters on a call previewing the announcement.

Pending congressional approval, companies will be able to pursue two tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit will provide a maximum of $2,400 for every short-term unemployed hire and $4,800 for every long-term unemployed hire. And the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit will increase an existing tax credit for firms that hire veterans with service-inflicted disabilities. That credit offers a maximum of $9,600 per long-term unemployed veteran and a maximum of $4,800 for all other service-disabled veterans.

The official said the the tax credits are not expected to be indefinite, but that they were "both fair and something the American people will strongly support," given the large number of veterans entering the workforce in a tough economy.

A new task force headed by the Defense and Veterans' Affairs departments will develop reforms to ensure veterans will emerge from service better prepared for a career. Additionally, the Labor Department will offer a better career-development and job-search service package to transitioning veterans at their career centers. For the private sector, the Office of Personnel Management will create a best-practices manual to help companies identify and hire veterans. Obama is expected to announce a list of companies that will increase their commitment to hiring former service members.

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