By Jim Reed
A new report by NCSL—A Path to Employment for Veterans with Disabilities—catalogs an extensive array of services and benefits designed to improve the lives of military veterans with disabilities by providing opportunities for meaningful employment.
State legislatures have enacted a variety of policies in recent years to help veterans find and sustain civilian employment after discharge from the military. Many of these initiatives are designed to ease the path into employment for veterans with disabilities.
Veterans with disabilities can encounter obstacles in finding and keeping jobs, such as translation of military education and training, negative attitudes by employers, a lack of understanding or knowledge of disability-related rights and responsibilities, and mistaken assumptions regarding their abilities and disposition.
Employers and policymakers at all levels of government have a role in facilitating this population’s path into the labor market.
The dozen state policy options profiled in the report include:
- Veteran employment preference
- Career development and job placement
- Employer certification and recognition
- Apprenticeships and on-the-job training
- Employer tax credits
- Occupational licensing
- Career-specific programs
- Veteran-owned businesses
- Preventing employment discrimination
- Female veteran programs
- Paid sick leave
- Transportation access
An example of a state policy to increase employment of veterans with disabilities is employer incentives.
At least 11 states—Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Utah, Washington and West Virginia—provide an income tax credit to private employers that hire one or more veterans. Employers typically may claim the tax credit for the first and second taxable year in which they employ one or more qualified veterans. Credits range from $1,000 to $15,000 for each veteran hired. Three states—Alaska, New York and West Virginia—offer a larger tax credit to employers who hire veterans with disabilities.
Another policy option enacted in several states is legislation creating a path for veterans, including veterans with disabilities, to enter certain professions, often those to which a military skill set is regarded as most applicable or where critical needs exist. These include agriculture, health care and cybersecurity.
These are two of several examples of state policy options available to state lawmakers seeking to better assist their constituents in finding employment. In addition to concise summaries of the various policy options, an appendix of 175 state statute citations allows more in-depth analysis of the profiled policy approaches.
The report concludes by summing up the perspective of the state lawmakers focused on improving the lives of the nation’s military veterans: “As a nation, we are indebted to each and every servicemember for their service in the armed forces. As they return to civilian life, we can help repay the debt through our policy choices to ease the way into meaningful employment.”
The report was underwritten by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy’s State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED), of which NCSL is a partner, in its efforts to foster a nationwide workforce more inclusive of people with disabilities. NCSL's Jennifer Schultz and Jim Reed co-authored the report.
Jim Reed staffs the NCSL Military and Veterans Affairs Task Force.