Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Orion International Pledges Support to Members of the Guard and Reserve



Orion International has proudly joined the ranks of thousands of companies nationwide who have pledged their support for employees in the Guard and Reserve by signing an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Statement of Support.

On December 11, Retired US Navy Commander and ESGR Area Chair Ken Oppenheim presented the statement to Dave Lehmkuhl (Sales Manager), Tim Isacco (Chief Operating Officer), Mike Wood (Recruiting Manager), and John Teague (Candidate Recruiter), at Orion’s headquarters in Raleigh, NC.


L to R: Dave Lehmkuhl, Ken Oppenheim, Tim Isacco, Mike Wood, and John Teague

By signing the statement, Orion pledges that we will:
  • Fully recognize, honor and enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
  • Provide our managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage those employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.
  • Appreciate the values, leadership and unique skills service members bring to the workforce and will encourage opportunities to employ Guardsmen, Reservists, and Veterans.
  • Continually recognize and support our country's Service members and their families in peace, in crisis, and in war.
ESGR is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972 to develop and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers. The ESGR Statement of Support program was designed with the intent of increasing employer support by encouraging employers to act as advocates for employee participation in the military.

Founded in 1991 by five former Junior Military Officers, Orion is the nation’s largest recruiting firm, whose staff consists mainly of veterans, military spouses, and those still serving in the Guard or Reserves. With such a unique staff, Orion is not only able to help service members make the transition into the civilian workforce but also support our own employees who continue to serve. Additionally, Orion’s Values of Excellence, Innovation, Teamwork, Warrior Ethos, and Commitment complement ESGR’s mission of encouraging the employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.

To learn more about Orion's Military Recruiting Service, please click here. For a list of useful employer resources for hiring military veterans, click here.



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

State Tax Credits for Hiring Veterans

The benefits of hiring a veteran are many – they possess an accelerated learning curve, leadership skills, the ability to work well in a team, a respect for procedures, and give efficient performance under pressure, just to name a few. But did you know that your company could receive a tax credit for hiring a military veteran?

In addition to the federal tax credits which were retroactively extended for 2014 last month, there are many states that have implemented monetary benefits for hiring veterans. Check the list below to see if your state has tax credits that you could be taking advantage of by hiring a veteran today.

Alabama – Heroes for Hire Income Tax Credit – Provides a $1,000 tax credit for job creation to employers who hire recently deployed, and now discharged, unemployed veterans. The credit also creates up to $2,000 nonrefundable income tax credit to recently deployed, and now discharged, unemployed veterans who hold at least 50 percent ownership interest in a start-up business.

Alaska – Veteran Tax Credit – Provides $3,000 for a disabled veteran and $2,000 for a veteran who is not disabled. The veteran must have been unemployed for more than four weeks and have been discharged or released from military service less than 10 years before the date employment begins for a veteran who is disabled; or less than two years before the date employment begins for a veteran who is not disabled. The veteran must also be employed in the state for 1,560 hours or more during 12 consecutive months immediately following the date the veteran is first employed.

For a veteran employed in the state for 500 hours or more in a seasonal position during the three consecutive months immediately following the date the veteran is first employed by an employer in a seasonal position, a $1,000 credit is available.

Arizona – Provides a one-time state income tax credit of up to $2,000 for every unemployed veteran employers hire, with a $4,000 credit for a disabled veteran. Source

California – California Enterprise Zone (EZ) Program – Provides a payroll tax credit for employers located within boundaries of a defined Enterprise Zone within a given state. Businesses can reduce state taxes by a portion of wages paid to employees for up to five years.

Delaware – Veteran’s Opportunity Tax Credit – Offers employers the ability to receive $1,500 for each veteran hired for three years. The hiring must take place between Jan. 1, 2012 and Jan. 1, 2016. The veteran must have received an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, or the Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

Florida – Florida Veterans Employment Act – Allows a business to qualify for a one-time corporate income tax credit of $5,000 for each veteran the business hires. A business may qualify for an additional one-time $5,000 corporate income tax credit for hiring a veteran with a service-connected disability. The credit will expire June 30, 2019.

Illinois – Veteran’s Tax Credit – Employers can earn an income tax credit up to $5,000 annually for hiring veterans or Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation Iraqi Freedom. The credit is 20 percent of the total wages paid up to $5,000 to every qualified veteran hired after July 1, 2012. Employers can also earn an income tax credit up to $1,200 annually for hiring veterans of Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation Iraqi Freedom. The credit is 10 percent of the total wages paid to every qualified veteran hired after Jan. 1, 2010. Veterans must work at least 185 days during the tax year for the employer to qualify for the Veteran’s Tax Credit.

Missouri – Show-Me Heroes On-the-Job-Training – Reimburses employers 50 percent of wages up to 1,040 hours while the veteran is being trained to offset the cost of onboarding.

New Mexico – Veteran Employment Tax Credit – Provides up to $1,000 to businesses each time they hire a veteran who has recently been discharged from the military.

New York – Hire-A-Vet Credit –Businesses may earn up to $5,000 for hiring a qualified veteran, and up to $15,000 for hiring one who is disabled. It is a one-time credit applied against the 2015 and 2016 franchise tax years; any credit not used by an employer can be carried over for three years. Businesses must employ a qualified veteran no less than 35 hours per week for one full year. Qualified veterans must attest that they were not employed for 35 or more hours in the previous 180 days. A qualified veteran is someone who served on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, USMC, Coast Guard, Reserves, National Guard, NY Guard or NY Naval Militia and was released from active duty by general or honorable discharge after September 11, 2001.

Oklahoma – Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program – Provides up to six percent rebate if at least 10 percent of new payroll is comprised of qualified military veterans.

Utah – Veteran Employment Tax Credit – A non-refundable monthly credit of $200 (year maximum of $2,400) in the first year, and $400 monthly credit (year maximum of $4,800) in the second year is available to employers who hire a qualified recently deployed veteran on or after January 1, 2012.

Vermont – Tax Credit for Hiring a Veteran with Recent Military Service – Provides up to $2,000 for hiring a recently transitioned Vermont veteran.

Washington – Tax credits are provided to businesses that provide full-time jobs to qualified military veterans who have been unemployed for at least 30 days. The credit is equal to 20 percent of the wages and benefits paid up to $1,500. The measure will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2016. Source

West Virginia – Military Incentive Credit – Provides 30 percent of the first $5,000 of compensation paid to a veteran. If the veteran was a member of the reserve or WV National Guard, the credit equals 25 percent of the first $5,000 of compensation. The credit equals the percentage of disability suffered by the veteran, multiplied by the first $5,000 of compensation.

PLEASE NOTE: Orion ICS, LLC, its affiliates and its employees are not in the business of providing tax or legal advice to any taxpayer. This content is for general information purposes only, and is not intended or written to be used without the advice of the taxpayer’s independent tax advisor. Thank you for reading about tax credits for hiring veterans.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Federal Tax Credits for Hiring Veterans Extended through 2014

On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which provides for the temporary extension of more than 50 tax breaks, most of which expired at the end of 2013. The bill is retroactive and covers the entire 2014 tax year. Included in these extenders is an extension of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) tax credit, which expired on December 31, 2013. WOTC is now retroactively in place through 2014, for eligible veteran employees who begin work before January 1, 2015.

WOTC contains provision for both the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, which provides incentives of up to $5,600 for hiring qualified unemployed veterans, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, which provides credit for long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities to up to $9,600.

Who is an eligible veteran?
  • Short-term Unemployed: A credit of 40% of the first $6,000 of wages (up to $2,400) for employers who hire veterans who have been in receipt of unemployment insurance or compensation for at least 4 weeks.
  • Long-term Unemployed: A credit of 40% of the first $14,000 of wages (up to $5,600) for employers who hire veterans who have been in receipt of unemployment insurance or compensation for longer than 6 months.
  • Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: Veterans with service-connected disabilities hired within one year of being discharged from the military. The credit is 40% of the first $12,000 of wages (up to $4,800).
  • Long-Term Unemployed Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: A credit of 40% of the first $24,000 of wages (up to $9,600) for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been in receipt of unemployment insurance or compensation for longer than 6 months.
How to file for these credits?

You must submit IRS Form 8850, Pre-Screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit and ETA Form 9061 or 9062, Individual Characteristics Form (ICF) Work Opportunity Tax Credit, to the WOTC Coordinator within your State Workforce Agency (do not mail to the IRS) within 28 days from when the veteran begins work. You must then wait for a final determination from your State Workforce Agency that will indicate whether the employee is certified as meeting the eligibility for one of the WOTC    target groups. After the target group employee is certified by the State Workforce Agency, file for the tax credit with the Internal Revenue Service.

There are also other programs which offer state and local tax benefits to hiring veterans in addition to federal credits. For example, Utah has the Veteran Employment Tax Credit, which provides tax credits for the first year beginning at $200 per month, not to exceed $2,400 per year and increases the second year to $400 per month, not to exceed $4,800 per year, for each veteran hired. Check out our blog next week for a rundown of what states offer credits like these.

PLEASE NOTE: Orion ICS, LLC, its affiliates and its employees are not in the business of providing tax or legal advice to any taxpayer. This content is for general information purposes only, and is not intended or written to be used without the advice of the taxpayer’s independent tax advisor. Thank you for reading about tax credits for hiring veterans.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Veteran Spotlight: Ernie Ayala

Hire a Hero sat down with Ernie Ayala, a former Electrical Supervisor, whom Orion recently matched with a career at Siemens in the Energy sector. This is the second time that Ernie has used Orion’s services to help him find a rewarding career.

Ernie transitioned from the Navy after 20 years Active Duty service and two years Reserve. During his time in the military, Ernie served as an Electrician, Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman, and Gunner’s Mate. To say that Ernie likes improving himself through education is an understatement – Ernie holds two Associate’s degrees from Coastline Community College, and a BS from Southern Illinois University in Electronic Systems Technologies. He is currently pursuing an MBA from the University of Houston.

Because of his great experience previously with Orion, Ernie knew who to turn to when he wanted to make a career change. “I was extremely prepared thanks to the transitioning programs offered by Orion,” he says. He attended hiring conferences in Jacksonville and Houston, where he met with several companies, including Siemens. “The conferences allowed me to explore my options and be very selective,” he states.

Ernie has been with Siemens as a Quality Engineer for a few months and is very satisfied with his new position. He particularly enjoys the traveling opportunities, which he missed in the military, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a job well done. “Siemens also gives employees numerous training opportunities, which is helpful in growing in your position,” Ernie adds. He lists the great location, unbelievable pay, excellent benefits, and flexibility in his schedule as major perks of a career with Siemens.

The military has helped Ernie prepare for his current position. “Along with their transitioning courses, the military has given me leadership, electrical, medical, mechanical, and engineering training, which I have used again and again at Siemens,” he states.

To learn more about how your company can recruit talented veteran candidates for your open positions, please click here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

VetAdvisor Releases Veterans Job Retention Survey Results

In October, VetAdvisor announced the results of its Veterans Job Retention Survey, a collection of data to reveal the state of veteran retention in the civilian workforce. The results hope to help employers build a better plan for veteran retention in the private sector.

The survey, conducted of nearly 1,500 veterans from December 2013 through February 2014, explored how veterans find their initial post-military jobs and the reasons why they choose to leave them for new jobs. Highlights from the findings included:

Over 14 percent of those who participated in the survey indicated that they were working in their first civilian job. Of those who left their first job, nearly half of those respondents left in their first year, with two-thirds leaving within two years.

Veterans indicated that the biggest obstacle for obtaining meaningful employment post military was finding careers that matched past military training and experience.

Overwhelmingly, nine out of ten of those who participated in the survey linked the opportunity to use their skills and abilities as the most important characteristic of civilian employment, and identified these qualities as most significant in retention within a civilian position. Other aspects, including career development, benefits, work environment, and employee/employer relationships were also indicated as significant retention issues.

Regardless of the number of jobs held, there was a correlation between the position and how long the position was held within the veteran’s preferred career field.

With these findings, VetAdvisor suggested a method of action for employers to increase veteran employee retention, which included providing education on military skills and their translation to the civilian workforce for recruiters and HR professionals in the private sector, developing veteran programs within companies to help veterans develop a career path outside of the military, and creating programs that will help match veterans to open positions more accurately.

A vital step in a military hiring program is to help veterans feel comfortable with their new careers.  Called the “candidate experience,” what a candidate experiences as they progress through the hiring process is directly related to their satisfaction and longevity as an employee. This period begins with their initial interest in a position up through the onboarding process.

There are many ways to maximize the candidate experience for veterans, including educating yourself on the military backgrounds of potential candidates, maintaining healthy communication, and creating the right environment. Read more about how to create an onboarding process and work environment that appeals to veterans here.

To help civilian employers find, hire, and, most importantly, retain top military talent, Orion has created customized Military Talent Programs, which focus on delivering consistent quality and quantity of candidates, at a lower cost per hire, while incorporating Brand Marketing, Training, and Consulting, to ensure the best possible results.

Orion is the only company to offer a full-cycle Strategic Military Program that address all phases of the process, from candidate attraction and recruiting, through on-boarding, integration, and retention. If you would like to learn more about how you can create a Military Talent Program for your company, click here.

In addition, Orion’s Hiring Conferences allow for a chance to interview with the best military job seekers, qualified and suitably matched veterans that are interested in your available opportunities. Orion provides insight on the transitioning military candidates, and offers advice on the most effective hiring strategy. Orion holds multiple Hiring Conferences a month, with locations throughout the country. Learn more about an Orion Hiring Conference.

With these tools, Orion can help make hiring veterans easier for your company.

“The Baltimore Distinguished Candidate Conference we attended was very beneficial and had an excellent format. The candidates were excellent, and we were able to complete many interviews in a short period of time. The format was also conducive to getting to know potential candidates better than in a traditional setting,” explains John Bates, Human Resources Manager at Remington Arms.

To learn more about Orion’s services, click here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Orion International Exceeds $100K Fundraising Goal for Veteran Partner Organizations

Orion International’s Veteran Low to High Challenge is coming to a close, with $111,263 raised through individual and corporate donations for our partner Veteran Organizations – Operation Military Embrace, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, and Warrior Hike.

In addition to the funds donated by Individual and Corporate Donors, we held a 5K Run / Walk Race in each of the cities in which we have an Orion office – Austin, TX; Cincinnati, OH; Raleigh, NC; Virginia Beach, VA; and San Diego, CA. In total, these 5Ks raised over $60K, with almost 1,000 runners participating!


Through the generosity of the donations, we were able to present a check of $25K to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation at their annual gala, hosted in Riverside, CT last month. Read more about the gala’s events here.

From left: Orion team members Jay Diller, Molly Moore, Kayla Burns, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation scholarship recipient Jacob Centeno Healy, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation Executive Director John Coogan, Orion team members Meredith Guenther, Todd Phillips

The culminating event of the Veteran Low to High Challenge occurred in October, when a team of Orion Employees, Veterans, Partners, and Corporate Sponsors hiked from the lowest point in Death Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney. Read the full week’s events of the hike here.



Orion International is proud to be able to give back to organizations that make a real difference in the lives of military members. We would like to extend a big THANK YOU to all our sponsors who made the Veteran Low to High Challenge possible. Your contributions have made a difference for Veterans and their families.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Veterans & Military Spouses Attend Free Project Management Training

Twenty-seven veterans and military spouses gathered on November 15 in Washington, D.C., to attend the Veteran and Military Spouse Project Management Training hosted by Bank of America, Easter Seals Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, Orion International, and Efiia Cares. This no-cost intensive project management (PM) training and career transition program is designed to help veterans and military spouses compete for higher paying, executive management track positions that lead to long-term professional success.

Held in the offices of Bank of America, the class was attended by students who came ready to learn the fundamentals of project management, industry standards, and best practices based on real projects. The students participated in classroom instruction, group exercises, presentations, resume writing, practice interviews, and training on management tools.

As with past training sessions, this event was a success with students gaining valuable knowledge. Course evaluation survey results reflect that students felt the course was highly effective, and all would recommend the course. Among the feedback received on the course was:
  • Amazing class. I learned a lot of information to help me with my job search.”
  • Having just completed the HCC PMP series, this training really brought it home.” 
  • Great course!  Loved it and learned a lot.”
  • I was really impressed.”


The next class will be held January/February 2015 and is for veterans, military spouses, and active duty military scheduled for separation in 2015 with little or no project management experience. For more information about this program, please visit us online or complete this form to request registration information when it is available. If you have questions, please email Kelly O'Connor.