NEW ULM - Brown County employers learned about the incentives and resources available and reasons to hire service members and veterans at the Hot Topics Breakfast at Turner Hall Friday.
"Service member employment is one of our biggest priorities," said Captain Michael Graves of the New Ulm-based 1-125th Field Artillery. "More than 2,000 service members recently returned from deployment, and 15 percent are unemployed."
He talked about the adaptability of soldiers, especially since Sept. 11, 2001.
"All our missions since then were something other than field artillery," Graves said.
The U.S Army plans no more wartime deployments at least until 2017, Graves added.
He said today's soldiers are better educated than ever before. All are high school graduates, and many joined the military for higher education benefits.
Dennis Maday of New Ulm, Area Five Chairman of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), said the organization is planning a Boss Lift (Chinook helicopter ride for veterans employers from New Ulm to Camp Ripley in September or October.
"Anyone interested should contact us. We've got room for about a dozen people," Maday said.
Maday and ESGR Program Support Specialist Jim Mitchell of Mankato presented the organization's Patriot Award for National Guard and Reserve member support to Lisa Bloemke of Christensen Family Farms human resources.
Mitchell said the Patriot Express program speeds up low-interest, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans for start-up and expansion of veteran-owned businesses.
Other free services include free monthly Entrepreneurial Essentials classes at the New Ulm Workforce Center and Profit Mastery classes for veterans and their spouses.
Bill Meyer of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), said his office offers programs to match veterans with jobs plus outreach for disabled vets.
Meyer said the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 established a new target group for unemployed veterans, similar to the Recovery Act of 2009, with maximum tax credits of $5,600 for veterans unemployed for at least six months and a $2,400 for veterans unemployed for at least four weeks. Incentives expire Dec. 31, 2012.
A tax credit of up to $9,600 is available for hiring veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for work for more than six months.
The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) offers up to a year of retraining assistance to veterans who are unemployed, are at least 35 but less than 60 years old, are not eligible for other VA education benefits, are not receiving VA Individual Unemployability compensation or enrolled in a federal or state job training program.
Veterans looking for work should visit their nearest Minnesota Workforce Center and see a veteran employment representative, use the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities "MyMilitary GPS Lifeplan" to create a career goal, and post their resume on www.MinnesotaWorks.net.
Employers looking to hire veterans should begin the three-step process at www.PositivelyMinnesota.com/Veterans, label jobs "veteran friendly,", visit the nearest Minnesota Workforce Center and see a veterans employment representative, and connect with local Yellow Ribbon Networks at www.BeyondTheYellowRibbon.org.
For more information, visit www.btyr.org, www.benefits.va/gov/VOW or call 1-800-827-1000.
Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.