Organizations help veterans find jobs
Regional organizations, including several from Chester County, will be at event tonight to help veterans seeking employment
A variety of groups and businesses in the area work to offer veterans support in both jobs and other areas.
For many veterans who return from duty, struggles don’t end upon their return.
Although the rate of unemployment declined to 5.8 percent for Gulf War era II veterans in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s not stopping local nonprofits and businesses from working to help make sure the problem continues to diminish for all veterans.
Vets for Vets, an organization located in Pennsburg that works to help veterans transition back to civilian life, recently joined forces with The Open Link. Open link is a multi-service agency serving the greater Upper Perkiomen Valley that provides services and programs that help promote socialization and volunteerism for people of all ages.
Jake Leone, founder and administrator of Vets for Vets said that with the new partnership they are now able to set up each veteran with an employment counselor at The Open Link and complete an employment assessment once they are accepted into the Vets for Vets program.
“We’re basically incorporating it into the VFV in-processing checklist. This will include an employment goals review, resume assistance, interview skills training and application following up assistance,” said Leone. “There’s an application and interview process. They sit down and we get to know them. We ask them why they’re here and make sure they recognize that they need the help.”
According to Leone, the program’s partnership with The Open Link has helped about three different veterans find jobs over the past few months. Since the program’s inception, it has assisted about a dozen veterans with the job search process.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that among the 495,000 un-
employed veterans in 2015, 57 percent were age 45 and older. About 37 percent of unemployed veterans were age 25 to 44, and 5 percent were age 18 to 24. For the organization, most of the veterans they assist are Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, ranging in age from late 20s to early 30s, Leone said.
“Based off the trends I’ve
seen and the experience I’ve had, it comes down to the fact that many of these guys and women join the military as kids and they establish a particular skill set. Many are from combat arms backgrounds. And when they get out, if they don’t want to work in security it’s not a transferable job criteria for a civilian,” explained Leone. “Many don’t know where to start. They don’t have mentorship or leadership and they’re left to fend for themselves. It’s an intimidating process.”
Additionally, Leone explained, many veterans they help end up working in the trade industry due to, what he says is a lack of business commerce opportunities.
“We don’t have a lot of business commerce. We mostly place them in trade crafts. We’re looking at businesses with apprenticeships, the businesses that want veterans and are willing to train,” said Leone.
Leone said that, in his opinion, there is often a disconnect between businesses that say they hire veterans
and those that actually do.
“There’s a lot of businesses that say they want to hire veterans but when it comes down to it, I’ve seen a big gap in the companies that say they want to and the companies that actually do. Many times when we have them follow up they tend to be looked over. I haven’t gotten a real explanation for that. In my opinion, there’s a stigma with veterans that come out of a combat arms background.”
Luckily, Vets for Vets isn’t alone in its effort to assist
A variety of groups and businesses in the TriCounty area work year round to offer veterans support in both jobs and other areas. Among those organizations are the Montgomery County Veterans Affairs Office, Chester County Veterans Affairs Office, Disabled American Veterans, Montgomery County Vet Center, Health Benefits Administration, VA Coatesville, Montgomery County and Chester County Recorder of Deeds offices, Chestnut
Knoll At Home Services, Spring Valley YMCA, Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA, Spring-Ford Counseling Services, and Phoenixville Hospital.
Veterans will have the opportunity to speak with those organizations tonight at the Third Annual Breaking Down the VA Benefits Wall at the Spring Valley YMCA, located at 19 W. Linfield-Trappe Road, Limerick, starting at 5:30 p.m.
To donate or learn more about Vets for Vets visit www.soldiertocivilian.org.