With new figures showing the nationwide unemployment rate among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans rose 56% in the past year to 11.2%, which could mean that nearly 1,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan from New York City could be unemployed, Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens) renewed his call for New York City to implement his veterans employment plan which places returning veterans in City jobs. The plan is modeled on a successful program in Los Angeles.
“New York has a chance to help veterans get back on their feet quickly,” said Councilman Gioia. “We have an obligation to our brave men and women who serve selflessly overseas that when they return home they are afforded every opportunity they can to live out the American dream. There is no reason for so many New Yorkers to be unemployed when they get home after serving our country. New York City should be welcoming for our veterans, not closing its doors to them.”
In March, the Bureau of Labor Statistic released new statistics finding that veterans who have been deployed since September 2001 have higher rates of unemployment then their non-veteran peers. The statistics, which were compiled before the downturn in the economy, show the gap is especially stark among veterans ages 18 to 24, who have an unemployment rate of 14.1%, and is nearly twice the average for every other age group of veterans. Among veterans who were 18 and over, and who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was an 11.2% unemployment rate, a 56% hike since last year.
To help ease veterans’ transition to private life and to prevent sustained unemployment, Gioia is proposing New York City Veterans Employment Training Sponsorship. The program would direct city agencies to set aside or create a certain amount of full time, fully paid positions for veterans- while also teaming up the veteran with a professional civilian mentor for a 12 month program. The program would help ease the soldiers back into civilian life, while also helping them expand on the skills which they learned in the military with civilian professionals. Additionally, Gioia announced he would begin formulating a plan to create public-private partnership to help get veterans employment- much like Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi has done with his Warriors to Work program on Long Island.
The Gioia program is based on the successful Los Angeles Veterans internship program. The Veterans’ Internship Program (VIP) in Los Angeles was launched on May 16, 2007 and has placed more than 100 veterans in city jobs, and has fielded over 1,000 applications in just one year of existence. Veterans are placed in city agencies for 12 to 24 month on the job training programs. The Los Angeles program was just recognized as one-of-the top programs in all of California for its success.
The transition to civilian life is a leap which many in the military can find difficult. A survey done by Military.com last November showed that 81% of those surveyed (4,442 soldiers) felt that they were not fully prepared to enter the civilian workforce, 67% reported an inability to translate the many skills they learned in the military into civilian life, and 64% of employers felt that veterans need additional assistance making a successful transition into the civilian job seeking market.
In addition, Gioia reminded veterans that there are a few programs already in place which can help them find employment. They include:
· Helmets to Hardhats: Connects veterans to jobs in construction. 866-741-6210
· Troops to Teacher: Helps place veterans in teaching positions. 877-493-2444
· Hire Vets First: Connects veterans with employers. 202-693-4700
· VetJobs: Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsored group that connect veterans with jobs. 1-877-VETJOBS