By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Rep. Paul Cook’s (R- Apple Valley) bill HR 3286, the HIRE Vets Act of 2016, passed unanimously on the House floor. This bipartisan bill would promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and effective program. Specifically, it would create an awards program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans.
Once established, the HIRE Vets Act would be a self-funded program within the U.S. Department of Labor that allows employers to proudly display one of two Presidential Awards on their products and marketing materials. These “HIRE Vets Medallions” would be awarded to deserving employers who make critical contributions to our veteran workforce. The medallions –Gold and Platinum –would be awarded to employers that achieve 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.
Veterans account for about 7% of the civilian labor force. Approximately one quarter of veterans in the labor force served after September 2001 (“Post-9/11 veterans”), and the remaining three quarters served in prior periods. Historically, Post-9/11 veterans have had higher unemployment rates than non-veterans.
Rep. Cook said, “Our veterans have displayed great courage in serving their country, and they’ve acquired distinctive skills that make them ideal candidates for employment. So as a combat veteran myself, I’m deeply concerned that the men and women of our Armed Forces continue to struggle to find jobs upon returning to civilian life.
“The HIRE Vets Act is an opportunity for Americans to see which companies truly live up to the employment promises they make to veterans. Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment, and this bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices.”
This bill previously passed out of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously and will now move to the Senate.
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.