In all the hype about barbecues and beaches, it's easy to forget the original history of Memorial Day was as a day of remembrance for those who died in our nation's service. Originally called "Decoration Day," the tradition began in 1868, a few years after the close of the Civil War. In early commemorations, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, but after WWI, the day of remembrance was changed to honor those who died fighting in any war. Over time, many started using the day as a day of remembrance for not just vets, but for commemorating deceased family and friends, as well.
If you'd like to take a few moments to honor the men and women who died in military service, you can visit the Veteran's Affairs Memorial Day page to learn about related events and traditions.
While we honor the dead, let's not forget about the living vets who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to face a difficult job market, among other re-acclimation challenges they face when returning home. The unemployment rate for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is about 12%, or 4% higher than the overall unemployment rate.
Potential Tax Credit if You Hire a Vet in 2012
Do you know about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for hiring vets? It's a provision in the VOW to Hire Heroes Act 2011. The Act allows employers to claim the WOTC for veterans certified as qualified veterans who begin work before January 1, 2013. Credits are substantial: as high as $9,600 per qualified veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 for qualified tax-exempt organizations. There are a number of factors that determine the credit amount, including the length of the veteran's unemployment before hire, the number of hours the veteran works, and the veteran's first-year wages. Learn more about potential tax credits for hiring veterans from the IRS.
Department of Labor Hiring Veterans - Compliance Programs