Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Home Front Improvement: ROA to Testify on Veteran Home Protections and Small Business Employment

On Thursday, June 21, 2012, the Reserve Officers Association will testify in a hearing held by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. The hearing will focus on bills that will improve the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to protect housing as well as amend Title 38 of the United States Code to protect veteran employment.

US Code Title 38 includes provisions on employment of veterans, including the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA).  Thursday’s hearing will include two bills to improve employment protections.  H.R. 3860 – the Help veterans Return to work act would help reemployments, by tightening up USERRA by permitting only small business concerns to claim hardship exemptions if unable to rehire a disabled Reserve Component member.  Currently any size business can make this claim.  H.R.4115 – the Hire at Home Act codifies the need to credit any military training as one of the program functions of the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veteran’s Employment and Training.

The SCRA legislation provides a wide range of protections for service members called to duty. It is intended to postpone or suspend certain civil obligations to enable service members to devote full attention to duty and relieve stress on the family members of those deployed service members. However, the changing nature of contingency operations and the conditions of service today indicate that the SCRA must be continuously reviewed to protect service families. Realizing this, the House of Representatives introduced the Fairness for Military Homeowners Act of 2012 and the Military Family Home Protection Act.

Under the Fairness for Military Homeowners Act of 2012 (H.R. 4740), SCRA would be amended to ensure that certain relocations of a service member for duty away from the service member’s principle residence does not prevent him or her from refinancing the mortgage on that principle residence.  In addition, the Military Family Home Protection Act (H.R. 5747) would amend SCRA to improve expand protections against mortgage foreclosures to serving members who are deployed to contingency operations, military who are retired for a disability at a 100 percent rating.

As discussed at an ROA Defense Education Forum event earlier this month, small business is the engine of our economy, creating hundreds of jobs each year. Last month alone, small businesses added 57,000 jobs, helping to ease the unemployment rate.[1] Today there are thousands of Small Business Administration 8(a) certified, VA certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVSOB) and VA certified Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) companies currently doing business across the country. In the military contracting arena, small business succeeds in creating jobs by providing quality, flexible and cost effective solutions.

For Reservists and Guardsmen, these proposed bills would ensure a better quality of life upon returning home from deployments and transitioning back to their civilian lives. Having to carry the weight of their military obligations, ROA will see to it that Congress works to alleviate the weight of civilian obligations for today’s service members.

ROA’s testimony is embargoed until after Thursday’s morning testimony, but it will be posted at following the hearing.

[1] The unemployment rate among Reservists and Guardsmen today is 150% that of the national average.

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