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H.R. 244, as amended, would require the Department of Labor (DOL) to establish the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, within two years of enactment, to annually recognize private and public sector businesses for their efforts to employ veterans. DOL would make awards to employers, on a voluntary basis, who recruit, employ, and retain veterans; and provide community and charitable services supporting the veteran community. Employers would earn either platinum or gold status based on requirements related to the number of veterans hired each year, if they provide pay equity for Guardsmen and Reserve employees who were called up to active military service, and if certain other requirements are met.
Beginning two fiscal years after the program is established, the bill would require DOL to assess fees on employers that apply to the program to cover the complete costs of the program. Those fees would be available without further appropriation to operate the program.
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. There are several major federal programs that support veterans in the civilian labor market. In addition to federal efforts, there are substantial state, local, and private initiatives that support veterans' employment outcomes.
The Committee believes that the creation of DOL program under the bill is a constructive way for the Federal government to recognize companies that have made significant efforts to hire and retain veterans. The Committee is also encouraged that the award will remain meaningful and relevant due to the strict qualifications that companies must fulfill to be eligible for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award.
According to the bill sponsor, “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.”