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Gabbard, Cook Reintroduce HIRE Vets Act

January 5, 2017, 2:30 PM HST
* Updated January 5, 12:07 PM
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Big Island Now stock photo. June 2016.

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Paul Cook (CA-08) introduced the HIRE Vets Act of 2017 today.

This bipartisan bill, which was previously introduced, passed the House with unanimous support in November 2016, but did not pass the Senate before the end of the year.

The legislation 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 award program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers—both large and small—to hire and retain veterans. Cook and Gabbard designed the program to be self-funded.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a four-tiered system—Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum—associated with 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.

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“Roughly 500 veterans return to civilian life every single day, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans that have returned home since 9/11,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said. “While we’ve taken some important steps to encourage employers to hire more veterans, more than 400,000 veterans across the country are still unemployed today. Through their service, veterans develop unique skills, experiences, and leadership training that make them especially valuable to employers. The HIRE Vets Act incentivizes employers to hire veterans, and recognizes employers that provide a supportive work environment to retain veteran employees. I encourage our colleagues to join us in passing this bill unanimously again to move this support for our veterans and employers forward.”

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Rep. Paul Cook said, “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.”

Rep. Gabbard is a twice-deployed combat veteran and member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. She continues to serve as a Major in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard.

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.

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