Posted by Bill Kamela
Senior Policy Counsel, Microsoft

Today, I was honored to represent Microsoft at the White House as President Barack Obama signed into law a critically important piece of legislation, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. Joining the president at the signing ceremony were the First Lady, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden, along with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, distinguished leaders from veteran serving organizations (VSO’s) and a number of U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This new law will provide our veterans with additional training and employment opportunities as they transition from their military occupations into civilian careers. The passage of this bipartisan legislation is a significant victory for veterans, who too often return home without the support they need for a successful transition into civilian life. We applaud the House and Senate for their unanimous approval of the VOW, which combines components of Senator Patty Murray’s Hiring Heroes Act (S. 951; Report #112-36), and Representative Jeff Miller’s Veterans Opportunity to Work Act (H.R. 2433; Report #112-242).

Since 2010, through the Microsoft Elevate America veterans initiative, we have worked with nonprofit organizations and local workforce areas across the country towards this same goal, helping our country's veterans and their spouses acquire the skills and resources they need to bridge the opportunity divide and be successful in today's workplace.

We have a strong belief that our veterans, who fight for our freedom while they serve our country, should not have to fight for jobs when they come back home. As a company, we are investing $12 million in cash, software, training and certification resources and other services to this end. Through this work, we continue to develop best practices for how private sector companies can work in partnership to scale support for the thousands of veterans and their spouses who can benefit from this type of assistance. These efforts are especially critical right now given the current unacceptably high rate of unemployment among veterans and the large numbers of young men and women returning from their deployments.

Veterans and their spouses can find more information on resources available from Microsoft and our partners at www.microsoft.com/veterans.

Read more about the Vow to Hire Heroes Act and today’s signing on the White House Blog.