Massachusetts leads the nation in providing services for veterans and military families thanks to the strong commitment of our taxpayers, policy makers and advocates. During the month of November, more attention may be given to honoring our brave military servicemen and women; however, as citizens of this Commonwealth and this country, we have an obligation to support our veterans throughout the year.
It is critical that veterans receive re-employment and training opportunities as part of the range of services we provide when they transition home. With 385,000 veterans currently residing in Massachusetts and an influx of veterans expected to return home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Governor Patrick and I have asked the business community to consider hiring veterans for open positions and educating employers about the value of hiring a veteran. Unfortunately, we see unemployment among veterans disproportionately higher than the civilian population and not enough companies are aware of available tax credits to hire veterans. Yet, veterans have bravely served our country and are proven to be reliable, diligent, and always ready to get the job done.
In early November, major trade associations such as the Massachusetts Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Smaller Business Association of New England, and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable joined the Patrick-Murray Administration to encourage their members to hire veterans, and we look forward to working with more members of the business community throughout the year. Companies need to be informed of the financial benefits for hiring veterans such as the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit and two federal tax credit provisions approved by the Senate leading into Veterans Day, that were also included in President Obama’s American Jobs Act.
As part of our Administration’s plan to support the re-employment and training of veterans in Massachusetts, Governor Patrick and I will also:
- Propose up to $2.86 million in funding in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, including $500,000 in funding for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership to train and employ veterans who qualify for state benefits.
- Support the collaboration of military, state, and community resources to establish a Military Child Educational Awareness Program, an expansion of the Massachusetts National Guard’s successful pilot program for military children in the Massachusetts school system.
- Create a Student Veterans sub-committee of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services.
- Create a Veterans’ Re-Employment and Training sub-committee of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services.
With more military servicemen and women expected to return home, there will be an increased need for services and we need to do our part to ensure veterans are aware of these services. In addition to financial benefits for hiring veterans, there is a range of available resources such as health and human services, housing, and education. All 351 cities and towns are required to have a Veteran Service Office working in the municipality to inform the community of these services, and the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services is also an available resource. By working together, we can raise awareness of available resources and benefits Massachusetts veterans and their families have earned.