Klein boosts “Hire a Vet”

Small businesses owners will be rewarded for helping those who have helped their country.

Senator Jeff Klein met with post 9/11 veterans and business owners on Friday, April 26 at Lehman College to announce his “Hire A Vet” tax credit initiative.

The newly enacted state program will help give an incentive to businesses around the state to hire unemployed veterans by providing tax credits to the businesses.

To qualify for the credit, a business must hire a veteran who was discharged after September 11, 2001 and had been unemployed for six or more months.

A business may receive a tax credit equal to 10% of the wages paid to a veteran, up to $5,000, and up to $15,000 if the veteran is disabled.

The initiative comes as Bronx county, home to 3,000 such veterans, has one of the worst veteran employment rates, with 14.5% of veterans unemployed.

“When I heard the Bronx had been given this distinction of having one of the highest unemployment rates among veterans in the state, we wanted to do something about it,” Klein said. “And then in turn, we had been talking with businesses, and they were saying ‘we need a little help to be able to expand our workers.’

“Job formation isn’t so easy in a sluggish economy, so any help that they can get to employ people, that would be a great help,” said Klein. “When we mentioned the high veteran unemployment rate, business owners said ‘Hey, who wouldn’t want to hire a veteran?’ They possess love of their country, discipline, and they really care about their individual community. I thought it was a perfect fit.”

Klein was joined by Lehman President Ricardo Fernandez, who noted that a number of veterans are now attending the college to advance their job opportunities.

Among them is Meraldo Delgado, 37, a retired Navy veteran who served 15 years.

Delgado said statistics show the country is not doing enough to help veterans.

“I think what Senator Klein is doing will help most veterans,” Delgado said. “But the country as a whole is not doing enough.

He said called the incentive program “a good idea” that will help a lot of veterans who have not been as fortunate as I have been.”

“Maybe its just us Navy guys, but I have been very resourceful and have tried to maintain networks,” he said. “When I came back, not only did I start going to school, but I’ve also been able to get some temporary and part-time work. It helps that my wife works full time too.”

Jeffrey Colon-Melendez, 40, who retired after serving 17 years with the New York National Guard and a tour in Iraq in 2004, said although he was lucky to find full time work, he does believe it is difficult for veterans to get jobs.

“I was lucky that through my training in the military I was able to get a job at the Department of Veteran Affairs,” Melendez said. “I think this is great. It’s a great motive for businesses to hire veterans. We need to do anything to help them out. Every day I work with returning vets and its one of the biggest concerns—that and not having a place to live.”

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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