Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 | 2 a.m.
In the first bill she’ll introduce as a U.S. senator, Nevada's Jacky Rosen hopes to help veterans take their first step from the military to the private sector. Vice versa, she’s out to create opportunities for employers to form relationships with a capable and tested pool of candidates.
Next week, Rosen plans to introduce a proposal to incentivize employers to offer internships, apprenticeships and part-time work opportunities to veterans who have gone back to school. The bill would expand and modify an existing tax credit for employers for hiring veterans and other groups that often face difficulties entering the workforce. Known as the Hire Student Veterans Act, Rosen’s proposal applies not only to veterans of the five branches of the armed services but to Gold Star families, National Guard troops and reservists and their immediate families.
“It’s really important that any of those people who have given service to our nation and those family members have an opportunity for success when they transition out of their active duty in the military,” said Rosen, a Democrat.
Rosen unveiled the initiative Wednesday during a tour of the Nevada National Guard’s Las Vegas Readiness Center, which offers retraining programs to veterans to prepare them for work in the private sector. Nevada is home to about 200,000 veterans.
Currently, employers can receive a 40 percent tax credit on the first $6,000 in compensation they provide to veteran employees working at least 400 hours. Rosen’s initiative would cut that work requirement to 120 hours, allowing the credit to be used for internships.
“In listening to the vets who are going to school, what we’ve heard is that oftentimes they have to go full-time, so they can’t take advantage of internships or part-time work,” Rosen said. “So the Hire Student Veterans Act is going to allow the employer to use some of their Work Opportunity Tax Credit for our students and allow them to subsidize some part-time work.
“It’s going to improve and enhance our veterans’ resumes when they graduate," she said.
Toni Giddens, program manager for the employment assistance organization Work for Warriors, said the internship opportunities that stem from the bill would be “tremendous” for veterans.
“To get that industry experience is going to help prepare them for those amazing careers that they have experience for but in which they may not have gained experience in the civilian workforce,” she said.
Since getting underway in 2014, Giddens said, Work for Warriors has assisted about 2,500 veterans and placed 1,600 in full-time positions for such employers as Amazon, MGM Resorts, the Cosmopolitan and the Hard Rock Cafe.
The ability to establish internships, she said, would help employers understand the value of military experience for private-sector jobs.
“Their training and leadership skills set them apart,” she said. “I have a 21-year-old soldier who has been responsible for millions of dollars worth of equipment and leading hundreds of soldiers beneath him safely through deployments and combat situations.”
Likewise, Giddens said veterans could gain acumen needed to succeed outside of the military, including learning to translate military speak into business communications. For instance, instead of a veteran identifying herself as a first sergeant who led a platoon, that person would describe having experience as a first-line manager responsible for overseeing dozens or even hundreds of individuals. It’s the same difference, Giddens said.
Rosen, who was elected to the Senate in November after serving two years in the U.S. House, has co-sponsored other bills in the Senate but has yet to introduce one on her own. She said the veterans bill would be co-sponsored by a Republican who she had yet to identify.
Rosen and her aides could not immediately provide information on the fiscal impact of the proposal. But she said the tax revenue that would be lost would be worth it in providing opportunities both for employers and veterans.
"I think it would be pennywise and pound foolish not to invest in our veterans when they're transitioning out of their military service," she said. "We have trained them, we have prepared them, they are dedicated and loyal, and they love this country. All of those skills make them perfect for any employer, and it would be so foolish for us not to take what we've already invested in them — and, of course, what they and their families have already invested in taking care of us — and putting that to good use in the private sector."