Saturday, July 15, 2000

Grant will help vets find jobs

Maysville's Heather French applauds federal effort to prevent homelessness

By Sarah Anne Wright
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WOODLAWN — Ohio has won a $600,000 grant to help veterans enter the work force.

[photo] Miss America Heather French speaks at Woodlawn Goodwill center
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        U.S. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman made the announcement Friday at the Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries Rehabilitation Center. The grant will be administered by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, formerly the Bureau of Employment Services.

        “We don't have a shortage in workers, we have a shortage in skilled workers,” said Ms. Herman, stumping for an economy “that leaves no one behind.”

        The grant is one of 10 awarded to states with the goal of placing 2,300 veterans in unsubsidized jobs nationwide. More than 24 states applied for the one-year grants totaling $6.2 million.

        VETS, the Veterans Employment and Training Service of the Labor Department, wants the money to help veterans who are leaving active duty and need training or certification of skills they learned while on duty. The money would help those leaving the military without a college degree.

        Also present at Friday's announcement was Miss America Heather French.

        Ms. French, the daughter of former Marine sergeant, has chosen to highlight the plight of homeless veterans during her reign. Both Ms. Herman and Ms. French, a Maysville, Ky., native, praised Goodwill's comprehensive approach to vocational rehabilitation — featuring on-site living quarters and substance abuse programs in addition to job training and education.

        “I came into the program and I learned what I needed to know to get a job,” said Debbie Myers, a graduate of Goodwill's vocational program and now an employee at Standard Textile.

        An undetermined amount of the Ohio grant will be directed to the local Goodwill center and its Homeless Veteran Reintegration Project (HVRP).

        There are 10 vets in HVRP program now. The six- to eight-week course helps homeless veterans with substance abuse, job training, placement and housing. Since 1993, it has served more than 1,000 veterans.

        As many as 275,000 veterans are estimated to be homeless, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Yet veterans have a slightly lower rate of unemployment compared with nonveterans, at 3 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively.

        With unemployment at its lowest rate in 30 years, many employers are bringing the “nontraditional” worker, such a person with disabilities, back into the job market.

        “Now is a good time to get these people with barriers back,” said Raymond Pryor, a veteran and coordinator with the Department of Job and Family Services.

        The grant is also aimed at preventing homelessness, by helping veterans plan their transition into civilian life.

        “We want to work with the Department of Defense and create some sort of pamphlet that tells enlisted men and women what their options are and what's available to them,” Ms. French said.


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