(Adam Vogler) [Order this photo]
Missouri Plastics is one of 2,118 Missouri businesses taking part in the Show-Me Heroes program, pledging to make hiring veterans a priority.
House Bill 1680, which Nixon signed Tuesday, adds an on-the-job training component as an incentive for employers to hire and train returning National Guard soldiers, reservists or active duty personnel.
The Show-Me Heroes program will reimburse employers who agree to hire veterans for 50 percent of the employee's wages during a contracted training period.
Nixon said he hopes strengthening the Show-Me Heroes program will encourage more businesses to hire veterans.
"The men and women who have served admirably in the armed forces are well trained and make excellent employees. Now it's up to us to help them find a good job here," he said.
Nixon was joined at Missouri Plastics by Rep. Steve Hodges, D-East Prairie; Rep. Terry Swinger, D-Caruthersville; Rep. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau; and Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson.
Nixon said he is working to recruit veterans to come to Missouri after their service has come to an end. In 2009, he signed legislation to phase out the state tax on military retirement income. By the year 2016 veterans will not pay any state taxes on military pensions.
Businesses that take part in Show-Me Heroes sign a pledge agreeing that when a veteran applies at the company, they will give them an interview and a chance to prove they're right for the job.
One difficulty some veterans have in finding a job is that the training they receive while in the military isn't always recognized in the civilian world, said Robert Cloward, plant manager at Missouri Plastics, who served in the U.S. Army from 2001 to 2008.
The Show-Me Heroes job training program will help other veterans make the transition from military to civilian life, he said.
The unemployment rate for veterans who served in active duty following Sept. 11, 2001, referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans, was 12.1 percent in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is higher than the jobless rate among all veterans, which was 8.3 percent.
Male veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 who served during the Gulf War era II had an unemployment rate of 29.1 percent in 2011, higher than the 17.6 percent unemployment among young male nonveterans.
Since it started in 2010, the Show-Me Heroes program has helped place 1,637 veterans into jobs, according to state figures. It's administered by the Missouri Division of Workforce Development and will use federal funds through the Workforce Investment Act to reimburse businesses for employee wages during training.
Businesses that participate in Show-Me Heroes receive a Flag of Freedom plaque, which includes an American flag patch worn by a member of the armed forces.
Making the decision to take part in the Show-Me Heroes program was an easy one for Tamara Baremore, owner/CEO of Missouri Plastics.
"We are proud of our country and we support our veterans," Baremore said. "We want to be part of the solution to making our country better."
House Bill 1680 also expands the eligibility of financial assistance to spouses of active-duty service members, National Guard soldiers and reservists. This financial assistance is available to help spouses with payment of overdue bills, transportation and day care costs when pursuing employment and vocational counseling. It also offers subsidized employment for spouses, where a financial incentive is provided to employers who agree to hire them.
A list of employers participating in the Show-Me Heroes program and more information can be found at www.showmeheroes.mo.gov or by calling 1-800-592-6020.
4751 State Highway Y, Jackson, MO