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The Local Government Community Supports Veterans


According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey, there are more than 18.8 million veterans living in our communities today. While the majority of these men and women are 65 and older, there are still 1.6 million veterans that are younger than age 35 who are looking for jobs post-military.

Their biggest concerns when returning home? A survey conducted by the Center for Research and Public Policy found that veterans are concerned about applying military training to the workplace, job placement, and career counseling. Some local governments have successfully found ways to become involved with veterans in their communities and finding them a career. Here are several great examples.

City of Fayetteville Puts Veterans to Work

Located in Fayetteville, NC, Fort Bragg is the largest military installation in the U.S., so it only made sense for the city to help the thousands of service members who leave the base each year to find a job. The city created a new federal partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – where eligible veterans have the opportunity to interview with the city and be placed into temporary jobs where there are openings.

Veterans Watchmaker Initiative

In the county of New Castle, Delaware, the doors just opened on November 7 for its newest program, the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative, the nation’s only school dedicated to teaching the watchmaking trade to veterans – especially those with disabilities – for free.  In a recent Smyrna-Clayton Sun-Times article, it mentions that county executive, Tom Gordon, was a huge reason for the new program as the county agreed to lease the program a vacant building in Odessa, with a 10-year lease at $1 a year and option for renewal.

Sam Cannan, a longtime master watchmaker who cofounded the Initiative and chairs its board, also told the Smyrna-Clayton Sun-Times, “Veterans who complete training will have “instant employment,” citing a massive need for watchmakers. There are fewer than 3,000 nationwide and more than 4,000 more needed just to meet current demand created by a global revival of mechanical watches.

“These jobs can start at about $85,000 a year,” Cannan added, and veterans will not be charged any fees for training. “They don’t pay anything and the VA doesn’t pay anything and all the instructors are unpaid volunteers.”

City of Dallas Creates Healing Space for Veterans with FARM

The city of Dallas agreed to lease a paved-over city-owned parcel for the next decade to the nonprofit organization, FARM (Farmers Assisting Returning Military), a place where returning veterans can learn to work with earth and receive support from fellow veterans.

In an interview with Next City, founders Steve Smith and James Jeffers explain that the six-month program trains veterans to become farmers. Afterward, interns can stay at the organization’s farm or move on to partnering ones as farmers or educators. After two years of farming experience — a year less than civilians under the new Farm Bill — veterans are eligible for the federal loans that would help them buy their own farm.

Arlington County, VA Participates in Regional Partnership to Connect Veterans to High Demand Jobs

The Arlington County Board accepted a $150,000 state grant to train military veterans and connect them with careers in the high-growth, high-demand Information Technology (IT) field. The County is working with the City of Alexandria and others in a regional partnership for the new initiative, called IT Jobs for Veterans.

The partnership is funded by a $150,000 Virginia Workforce Investment Act Rapid Response Assistance grant from Gov. Bob McDonnell and Virginia’s Community College System. The Alexandria/Arlington Workforce Investment Board received the funding for this partnership between Alexandria City, Arlington County, the Virginia Employment Commission, Northern Virginia Community College, and Acentia.  Acentia, a private employer, is representing the local IT industry and will assist in coordinating the hiring of this program’s graduates.

This innovative partnership is expected to serve more than 50 veterans over an 18-month period. The grant covers all the program’s education, certification, and job training activities.

“Hiring Red, White & You”

In Arlington, Texas, Workforce Solutions, the Texas Veterans Commission and Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) hosts the annual Hiring Red, White & You! Job Fair. This event aims to connect Texas veterans and their spouses with Texas employers who value the skills, experience, discipline and other exceptional qualities inherent with a military background. The job fair has more than 150 employers on site, as well as resource agencies, and workshops.

Click here for more veterans' resources and to see how ICMA is partnering with national, state, and local government organizations to ensure that local governments have the tools needed to reintegrate and care for veterans and their families. 

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