9 Benefits and Incentives for Hiring Veterans

Veterans deal with a number of challenges re-entering the workforce after serving in the military, so making an effort to consciously employ veterans is a great way to thank them for their service while also benefiting from the knowledge and skills that come along with experience in the military. In addition to the social and business benefits of hiring veterans, there are also government incentives for businesses that hire veterans.


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9 key benefits of hiring veterans

The IRS and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) both provide resources and financial assistance to businesses that choose to hire veterans. They provide these benefits to encourage business owners to help assist veterans during the transition back to being a civilian. Besides the financial benefits of hiring a veteran, there are other advantages such as the extensive and unique knowledge and skills they bring to your business. As a business owner, you can feel good about supporting a vulnerable population and saving money while doing it through these key benefits:


1. Tax breaks

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a deduction that business owners can get from hiring certain groups, including veterans. While the program originally ran until 2019, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 extended this tax credit to 2021 and also allowed employers to retroactively claim a tax credit for any veterans they hired after December 31, 2014. Depending on how many veterans you employ, the WOTC tax credit can add up to significant savings on your taxes.


2. Salary subsidies during training

The VA has on-the-job training funds through the Veteran Readiness and Employment program. It subsidizes a veteran’s wages so that you can pay them an entry-level wage during their training, allowing you to get a talented applicant while offsetting onboarding costs. As the veteran becomes more experienced at your business and completes training, the VA subsidy slowly decreases.


3. Salary reimbursement

The Special Employer Incentive (SEI) program is another VA benefit that reimburses employers for hiring veterans that meet certain requirements. This program can reimburse up to half of the employee’s salary for a maximum of six months, plus the cost of instruction, any loss of productivity that your business incurs during training and any supplies and equipment. The SEI is designed for veterans who struggle to get jobs after serving and eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.


4. Free assistance

Another VA program you can take advantage of is the Non-Paid Work Experience program, which places veterans who want a specific type of career training at registered businesses. Your business saves on labor costs because you do not pay participants directly, instead providing training and on-the-job work experience while the VA gives the veteran a monthly stipend for their participation in the program. This program is usually short-term but can provide you with free assistance and may connect you with a motivated veteran to hire as a permanent employee in the future after training.

Related: How Do Veterans Get Small Business Loans?


5. Improved accessibility

You may be eligible for free upgrades to your workplace to make it more accessible to any veterans you hired. The VA can pay for modifications to your workplace that not only makes it easier for disabled veterans to complete their work, it makes the workplace more accessible for all current and future employees. They can also provide assistive technology and specialized tools for free, cultivating an equitable environment long beyond the initial hire.


6. Work ethic

Veterans often have an impressive work ethic. Learning to work hard and use determination to accomplish a goal is one of the primary skills everyone learns when they first enter the armed forces. They are highly focused on the tasks they need to accomplish and work well as a team, ensuring that everyone contributes their part to a successful project. Veterans may be used to working in uncomfortable, stressful situations, making them well-prepared for the challenges of a civilian job.


7. Organization

Because of the regimented structure of the military, veterans can bring impressive organization skills to your business. They are used to setting a schedule and maintaining habits in the military, which they can apply to their work schedule. The high-pressure environment of the military means that veterans learned how to keep track of all their priorities so that everything they need to accomplish gets done. 


8. Accountability

Veterans have a high level of personal accountability and can also encourage others on their team to be more efficient and dedicated to their work. In the military, making a mistake can have deadly consequences, so veterans are committed to taking responsibility for their behavior. They take their assignments seriously and strive for excellence, just like they did when they were working as a precise part of a team.


9. Leadership

The hierarchical structure of the military means that veterans are used to taking on extra responsibility and assuming leadership roles. They observed different leadership styles from their commanding officers and likely had leadership responsibilities themselves throughout their military career. As a result, veteran employees have a high aptitude to grow in your company, mentor others and make strategic decisions.


Receiving tax credits for hiring veterans

Before assuming that you qualify for the WOTC tax credit after hiring a veteran, review these basic guidelines and details:


People who qualify

Not all veterans qualify for the WOTC tax credit. Here are the situations that the WOTC currently covers:

  • Veterans who have been unemployed for between four weeks and six months in the year before being hired
  • Veterans who have a military-related disability and have been discharged from active duty in the last year before being hired
  • Veterans who have family members receiving SNAP benefits for at least three months of their first year working at your business
  • Disabled veterans who have been unemployed for over six months in the year before being hired

You also need to employ the veteran for at least 27 weeks in a row before you can claim any WOTC tax credits. If a veteran fits more than one of these categories, you may qualify for additional tax credits. 


WOTC tax credit amount

The WOTC credit amount depends on how much the veteran works, ranging from $2,400 to $9,600. The highest tax credits are for disabled veterans through the “wounded warrior” credit.


Forms needed to apply for the WOTC tax credit

To apply for these tax credits, you have to fill out several forms and submit them to the IRS:

  • Form 850 (within 28 days of the veteran’s first day)
  • ETA Form 9061 or 9062 (if claiming multiple credits for the same employee)
  • Form 5884 as part of the veteran’s income tax return


Finding veterans to hire

If you’re interested in hiring a veteran for your team, you can find qualified applicants by contacting a local Veteran Employment Representative. Go to the U.S. Department of Labor’s website and select your state from the drop-down menu to find a representative in your area. They will refer you to available applicants and guide you through the process of signing up for VA support. You can also attract veteran applicants by advertising on your website that your company is veteran-friendly.

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