soldier reading - DOD photoA combination of activity is underway across government and industry has to help spur the hiring of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

General Electric announced last week their plans to hire 5,000 U.S. veterans over the next five years, and to sponsor the “Hiring our Heroes” partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help veterans integrate into the civilian workforce and match them to jobs.

Hire our Heroes will sponsor 400 jobs fairs for veterans in 2012. Additionally, GE, named as a top recruiter by G.I. Jobs Magazine, will offer extra hiring training and services at 50 of those jobs fairs.  

State governments are also seeking ways to give jobs to large numbers of returning troops.

In Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon pledged to expand his Show-Me Heroes initiative, launched last year, in which private employers agree to put military veterans at the front of the line when hiring. More than 1,000 veterans have found jobs through the program, the governor said. Missouri also is among more than a dozen states that offer some kind of preference for veteran-owned businesses in procuring state contracts.

Oklahoma this year launched a new job market website, described by Republican Governor Mary Fallin as “a comprehensive reemployment resource for returning military men and women who have bravely served us.”

Michelle Obama with Soldiers - WH photoEmployer tax breaks

Another new development involves offering tax breaks to private employers who hire veterans. Idaho launched a Hire One Vet program last April that gives a sliding-scale income tax credit to employers who pay $12 to $15 an hour or more plus benefits, and meet other criteria.

In Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat, wants to give a $3,000-per-employee tax credit to businesses that hire veterans. In New Mexico, Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican, proposes a $1,000 tax credit for doing the same.

President Obama has made a big push to help veterans get jobs, including the creation of a Veterans Jobs Corps that will help communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters. Veterans issues were one of the few areas in which the president and Congress agreed last year. Just in time for Veterans Day last November, Congress passed legislation that provides federal tax credits to companies that hire vets.

Help on retirement and tuition

New Mexico Governor Martinez also wants to allow retiring veterans to exempt 25 percent of their pension income from state taxes, another idea that more than a dozen states offer, according to a tally from

Missouri passed a similar law in 2009. Military veterans there will not pay any state taxes on military pensions by 2016. “That law is a strong signal that we want military veterans to move to Missouri, to work in Missouri, and to make Missouri their home,” Nixon said.

Tuition assistance also is popular. Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, a Republican, wants to provide in-state tuition for all members of the Virginia National Guard, regardless of how long they’ve lived in Virginia. In Iowa, the first measure to hit Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s desk this year added $1.3 million to a tuition assistance program for National Guard troops returning from deployment.  

RELATED: Michelle Obama, Health Companies and Congress All Announce New Plans to Spur Hiring of US Veterans

Much of the writing by Pamela M. Prah in

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