A Congressman from California has introduced legislation that, if passed, would promote voluntary, private sector recruiting, hiring and retaining of U.S. military veterans. (U.S. Army photos by Staff Sgt. Austin L. Thomas)
By Rindi White
A bill aimed at recognizing businesses that hire veterans or provide community assistance to veterans’ groups passed the House recently and has been read into the record of the U.S. Senate.
Rep. Paul Cook, a Republican from California, sponsored the bill. In a Feb. 13 press release about its passage, Cook stated that 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 awards program recognizing the meaningful and verifiable efforts undertaken by employers — both large and small — to hire and retain veterans. The program is designed to be self-funded.”
The HIRE (or Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing) American Military Veterans Act of 2017 tasks the Department of Labor with soliciting, verifying and reviewing award applications from employers in three tiers: more than 500 employees, fewer than 50 employees, and more than 50 but fewer than 500 employees. The criteria include: the percentage of hired employees who are veterans; the percentage of veteran employees who are retained; the establishment of related veterans’ assistance and training programs; the employment of dedicated human resources professionals for veterans; and income and tuition support for veterans.
The bill allows an application fee to be assessed to cover the cost of administering the program. Businesses that are recognized for their efforts would receive a gold or silver HIRE Vets Medallion award, which they can display in their business or in advertisements for one year.
The bill was introduced during the 2014-2015 Congress and passed the House unanimously but did not pass the Senate before the end of the year. Cook says he hopes it makes it all the way through this year.
Cook said the bill allows employers to be recognized for good work.
“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. I’m grateful this bill passed the House with such overwhelming support and look forward to it passing the Senate and being signed into law soon,” he said.
Prior to his election to public office, 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. In the House, he is a member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees.