LANSING – Michigan Democrats today unveiled legislation they have introduced to help small businesses hire veterans. State Representatives Charles Smiley (Burton) and Jim Ananich (Flint), and State Senator John Gleason (D-Flushing) joined veterans and local advocates at the University of Michigan-Flint’s Student Veterans Resource Center to announce the proposal.

“Our veterans have fought to protect our freedom, the least we can do is give them a fighting chance at a good job when they return home,” said Smiley, lead sponsor and member of the House Military and Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee. “This legislation will benefit both Michigan’s small businesses and our servicemen and women.”

The “Hire MI Heroes” plan, HB 5144, would provide a tax credit to Michigan small businesses who hire an unemployed veteran. A recent Congressional report found that Michigan ranked as the worst state in the country for out-of-work veterans with an unemployment rate of nearly 30 percent. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that the unemployment rate in September for post-9/11 veterans was 11.7% with female veterans’ out-of-work at a rate of 14.7%. President Obama announced last month that all combat troops, nearly 40,000, are expected to be out of Iraq by December 31.

“As more of our brave men and women return home in time for the holidays, we should welcome them with open arms and an opportunity to secure a good job,” said Ananich, whose Grandfather was awarded a Purple Heart for serving in the Army during the World War II. “Making the most of the skills and leadership qualities our veterans offer, and boosting our local small businesses, will be key to getting our economy back on track.”

“Disabled veterans who have sacrificed so greatly for our country deserve the ability to put food on the table for their family,” said Gleason “Passing this plan and supporting the Wounded Warriors proposal in Congress are key elements of helping disabled veterans become a part of the workforce.”

“I appreciate Representatives Smiley, Ananich, Senator Gleason and their colleagues for focusing on this important issue,” said Kyle Cawood, an Iraq War veteran and member of the University of Michigan-Flint’s Student Veterans of America Club. “We need to be doing everything in our power to help the people I served with contribute to our economic recovery.”

Ed Ronders, Vietnam-era veteran and Director of VetBizCentral in Flint added, “Battling unemployment with incentives like the Hire Michigan Heroes proposal helps veteran job seekers and job providers at the same time. Veteran-owned small businesses could take advantage of the tax break while helping other veterans get back to work.” VetBizCentral,, assists veterans with starting or operating their own business.

Resources and information about the Student Veterans’ Resource Center at the University of Michigan-Flint can be found at Additional resources are available from the State of Michigan’s Veterans Employment Services Division at (800) 455-5228 or by emailing