Pa. lawmakers, veterans’ advocates join forces to get more vets working

Pennsylvania lawmakers and advocates for veterans met Thursday for a state Senate Democratic Policy Committee round-table discussion of how to help returning soldiers find work.

Resolving the issue, said Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, “requires a public policy plan in place.”

“That means tax credits, working with the private sector, governmental programs, a whole slew of things we need to do,” he said. “Out of this, we hope that we’ll develop legislation and policies.”

Williams recently authored legislation that would create a tax credit for businesses that hire veterans.

Raymond Bates, a veterans employment representative for the state Department of Labor and Industry, said employers need to step up.

“I am a 101st Airborne disabled veteran. My main job is, I call it, to harass employers to hire veterans,” Bates said. “Currently, employers are just not hiring veterans.

“It’s just sad that our men and women fight for us to live free in this country and employers can’t go out of their way to look to hire a vet,” he said.

Sen. Mike Stack said the issue of veteran unemployment strikes a personal note for him.

“As someone who serves in the National Guard as a captain with the 56th Stryker Brigade, I see folks who come home after serving and have run into this situation that we’re trying to deal with, with unemployment and the American dream, which they fought for,” he said. “It’s essentially turning into a nightmare for them personally.”

A number of participants mentioned the need for better coordination between groups that serve veterans.

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