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Rutland Herald: Welch unveils jobs bill for veterans

March 11, 2016
In The News

Jon Skates, former Rutland alderman, is retired from the U.S. Navy, where he served in the submarine service. Now, he’s in a managerial role at Casella Waste Management.

Skates said he was worried his military training wouldn’t transfer into the civilian workforce and he would have difficulty landing a job. 

Now, a proposed bill in Congress would give tax incentives to hire veterans like Skates.

The bill, cosponsored by Peter Welch, D-VT, is called the Jobs for Veterans Act. It seeks to give Vermont businesses a $5,000 tax credit for each military veteran the company hires. 

“This issue ... is near and dear to my family,” Skates said. “(The Jobs for Veterans Act) sets up the foundation for living ... a fulfilling life.”

To be eligible, a veteran needs to have served 180 days of federal active duty or to be discharged for injury while serving in the military.

Speaking at the Casella office in Rutland, Welch said more than 5,000 Vermont veterans and 4,000 current or former Army National Guard members are eligible.

He said economic security and employment opportunities are engines of healing. 

“A good job is probably the best program a vet can have,” he said.

Joe Fusco, Casella vice-president, said 6 percent of the company’s employees identify themselves as veterans. Recruiting former military members into the company is a deliberate effort, he said.

“The real benefit ... we learned that (veterans) are the best employees,” Fusco said.

It wasn’t easy for Greg Engler, a former Army National Guard helicopter pilot, to find a job after leaving the military either, he said; but he, too, was recruited into Casella’s management training program.

“I think it’s immensely important ... to get back into the workforce,” he said.

Tom Donahue, CEO of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, said the entire business community should support the Jobs for Veterans Act legislation. 

Donahue said his father was in the military and returned home a devoted family man.

“When he got back, one of the most important things to him was family and providing for his family,” Donahue said. “Having a good job provides a quality of life ... and incentives like these make absolutely perfect sense.”

The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Peter King, R-NY.