Mt. Jackson, VA - Despite serving our country honorably, many members of the Virginia National Guard and Military Reserves are struggling to find work. Businesses are often hesitant to employ someone who could be called to active duty for months at a time. State and Federal regulations prohibit this form of employment discrimination, but it is still common practice. In fact, a 2007 Workforce Management poll found that 51% of employers would not employ a member of the National Guard or Military Reserve.
John Lesinski, a candidate for Virginia's 15th District House of Delegates, has created a plan to encourage small businesses to hire service members and prevent military employment discrimination. Details of this plan will be presented today at 4:00pm at the future Veterans' Park, in Mt. Jackon (located at the north end of Union Church Cemetery, on the corner of Main Street and King Street).
"I will fight to make sure every veteran and member of our armed forces has a job if they want one," said Lesinski.
Lesinski, a retired colonel in the United States Marine Corps, is proposing two key activities to ensure jobs for members of the National Guard and Military Reserves:
* Provide a tax credit to small businesses of up to $1,000 for each Guard or Reserve member they employ with permanent, full-time work.
* Establish a designated hotline within the Virginia Attorney General's Office to respond to military service members and veterans who are victims of employment discrimination.
By focusing on tax incentives, Lesinski intends to mitigate some of the risk for small businesses who hire service members. The proposed tax credit would apply to businesses with fewer than 50 employees and would amount to 2% of the employee's salary, up to $1,000. Not only would this tax credit help secure jobs for service members, it would also help prevent service members from losing their jobs if called to active duty. Moreover, small businesses that employ service members would receive much-needed tax relief.
According to Lesinski, "This plan helps small businesses that do the right thing and support our troops."
Some legal assistance is provided to service members through the U.S. Department of Defense. However, Lesinski believes that the Virginia Attorney General should also respond to claims of discrimination against military service members, either directly or through an appropriate state agency. The establishment of an employment discrimination hotline is a low-cost initiative to facilitate efficient communication between victims and the Attorney General's Office. In addition to protecting service members on a case-by-case basis, the hotline would also help identify and take action against unscrupulous employers who repeatedly discriminate.
"If we are serious about supporting our troops, we need to move forward with this plan," said Lesinski.
The National Guard and Military Reserves constitute about 48% of America's military forces. Lesinski's plan will improve military retention and recruitment while fulfilling Virginia's moral and patriotic obligation to our troops. Lesinski also strongly supports the six legislative priorities of the Joint Leadership Council of Veteran Service Organizations, which includes tax relief for disabled veterans and fully funding the Wounded Warriors Program.
John Lesinski spent 26 years in the Marine Corps and Marine Reserves. During his term of service, he commanded intelligence billets and was called to active duty to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lesinski retired from military service in 2006, with the rank of Colonel. In addition to his direct military experience, Lesinski has been active in the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which provides college tuition to children of Marines killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also working to organize informational sessions in the Shenandoah Valley regarding the Wounded Warriors Program, which provides medical aid to disabled veterans.