Illinois Pushes to Hire More Veterans

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By Hilary LeHew
By Randy Livingston

WSIL -- Governor Pat Quinn urges businesses to hire veterans by giving them an incentive. A law signed back in July boosts a tax credit for businesses who hire vets.

The following criteria is required for eligibility: Veterans must have served post 9-11, the individual must have been looking for a job for up to a year, and those hired must work a required number of hours for the business to be eligible for the credit.

The credit is designed to help the increasing unemployment rate among veterans. Officials with the department of employment security say the unemployment rate for veterans is higher than the civilian rate, particularly those veterans who entered the service right out of high school.

"I didn't have much motivation to get up and come here," said Max Braun, 22, of Murphysboro.

For many veterans like Braun it isn't easy to ask for help. "I've got a friend's mom who works here so she, you know, put a foot in my butt trying to get me up here and I've got some other personal reasons," he said.

Braun exited the Marine Corps on September 7th after serving four years in Japan, Afghanistan, and both U-S coasts. Thursday was Braun's first trip to the Marion VA.

"I think it's good, good stuff. People need help so, I mean if you can help 'em, help 'em," said Braun.

The veteran plans on going to SIU but says he's glad to hear there's help out there for veterans looking for jobs. The Hiring Veterans Tax Credit would double the credit from 10 to 20 percent of annual wages for any business that hires recent veterans up to $5,000.

"Governor Quinn is a strong advocate of the men and women who are in our military and he feels that these heroes, these people who have served our country, we need these men and women in our workplace," said Kelly Kraft with the Governor's office.

Illinois Department of Employment Security Spokesperson Greg Rivara says the unemployment rate is devastating for veterans like Braun who served directly out of high school. "Their unemployment rate sometimes reaches 30%," he said. "It's completely unacceptable especially for the sacrifice that they and their families have made for us."

Officials say the tax credit could mean five to $10 million dollars in savings for employers. And in the meantime it could help further economic recovery efforts. "It's good stuff," said Braun. "I mean, I'll take what I can get. Beggers can't be choosers."

Under the new law families who have lost loved ones in combat are also eligible for property tax relief.
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