WASHINGTON--Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) announced that the House of Representatives passed with his support the Putting Veterans to Work Act of 2011 (H.R. 674). This bill passed the Senate last week and includes key provisions that benefit veterans as they transition to civilian life. Specifically, the bill creates new tax credits for businesses that hire veterans, improves the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for returning service members entering the civilian workforce, and expands educational and training opportunities to older veterans by providing up to a year of additional Montgomery GI benefits. Throughout our nations history, members of the armed forces have proudly stepped forward and made enormous sacrifices to protect our country and way of life, Cardoza in a news release. Once our service members fulfill their commitment to our nation, we must honor our commitment to them. We will forever owe them and their families a debt of gratitude, and this bill helps fulfill that promise. In Californias 18th Congressional District alone, an estimated 35,900 veterans are currently unemployed, and California is home to over 1.9 million veterans who cannot find permanent jobs. These staggering numbers reflect the economic crisis our nation faces and the difficulty we have in fulfilling our obligations to those who have sacrificed the most. The Putting Veterans to Work Act includes key provisions from other veterans bills, such as the Hiring Heroes Act (H.R. 1941) and the Veteran Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act (H.R. 2433). Although these individual bills passed the House of Representatives, they stalled in the Senate. Key Veterans Provisions in the Putting Veterans to Work Act: Provides businesses with a tax credit of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months, as well as a $2,400 credit for veterans who are unemployed for more than 4 weeks, but less than 6 months. Provides a tax credit of up to $9,600 for hiring veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months. Makes the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), an interagency workshop coordinated by Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs, mandatory for service members moving on to civilian life. Expands education and training opportunities for older veterans by providing 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI benefits to go towards education or training programs at community colleges or technical schools. Provides disabled veterans up to 1-year of additional Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits. Allows service members to begin the federal employment process prior to separation in order to facilitate a truly seamless transition from the military to jobs at VA, Homeland Security, or the many other federal agencies in need of our veterans. Works with the states to create a licensing and credentialing standard for returning service members to break down the barriers to find meaningful employment in their military occupations. Strengthens the protections for members of the National Guard and Reserve in the workforce to minimize hostile work environments. This bill is fully paid for, mainly with a VA mortgage fee extension similar to a provision that has already passed the House.