Other than a one-time payment of $250 to disabled veterans and making it easier for employers to hire vets, the federal government's economic stimulus package won't give much immediate help to the estimated 24 million veterans in the United States.

Most of the just under $4 billion for veterans in "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" will be spent on services or buildings that vets use. Specific sites are still unknown, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has no information on its Web site on how it will implement the act.

The "shovel ready" jobs talked about often in the stimulus package will increase jobs for veterans by giving them a preference in being hired, just as they already are under a federal law that mandates 3% of government contracts must go to disabled vets or a veteran-owned business.

The main reason why vets will see most of the stimulus in services is because it's difficult to keep track of them, and most don't use the Veterans Administration for assistance, said Tom Tarantino, policy associate for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or IAVA, a nonprofit with 125,000 members that lobbies Washington, D.C.

About $50 million will be spent on giving one-time $250 disability checks to disabled vets, who are statistically more likely to have a lower income and more likely to spend the money, Tarantino said.

"The best way to stimulate the economy is to inject cash into the pocket of the people who can spend it," he said. "It's not about increasing the economic status of the person, but infusing money so they can buy food to eat."

Giving employers tax incentives to hire vets is another immediate fix, adding tax credit for hiring part-time workers who are veterans. Businesses can claim a work opportunity tax credit equal to 40% of the first $6,000 in wages paid to a newly hired veteran.

A group that will see immediate benefits are Filipino veterans of World War II, who won a $198 million provision that will give them lump-sum payments of $15,000 to those who are American citizens and $9,000 to non-citizens, according to a New York Times story.

Besides possibly getting jobs in military construction, or in any of the other areas where the stimulus money is being spent, such as on road construction, vets will see the biggest change at buildings or services they use from the military.

"I[Though] it's not a direct pump" Tarantino said of the stimulus act's impact on vets. "It does actually help overall."

As provided by IAVA, here's a breakdown of where the stimulus money is helping military veterans:

  • Hospitals: $1.33 billion to repair, modernize aging military hospitals and ambulatory centers.
  • Medical facilities: $1 billion for non-recurring maintenance, including energy projects, to address deficiencies and avoid serious maintenance problems at the 153 VA hospitals.
  • Troops and family housing: $335 million to build new barracks and dormitories and improve family housing.
  • Child care: $240 million for new child development centers on base.
  • National Guard: $100 million for the Army and Air National Guard.
  • Homeowners Assistance Fund: $555 million to help military homeowners impacted by the housing crisis.
  • Wounded warriors: $100 million for transition complexes to help wounded vets and their families.
  • Energy conservation investment program: $120 million to make military facilities more energy efficient.
  • National Cemetery Administration: $50 million for memorial maintenance.
  • Claims processors: $150 million for temporary increase in staff.
  • Information technology systems: $50 million to improve automation of benefits processing.
  • State extended care facilities: $150 million for grants to states.

A lot of the money will be spread out over three to four years, Tarantino said.

Real more of WalletPop's coverage of how the economic stimulus package will help you, right here.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net


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