|WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2011 – Communities, nonprofit
organizations and companies are reaching out to support
unemployed American veterans in their search for work, and
one of the companies joining in the effort is information
technology giant, Microsoft Corp.|
It was last
Veterans Day when Microsoft kicked off its grant campaign,
“Elevate America Veterans Initiative,” by awarding $2
million in cash and up to $6 million in software and
information technology training to six nonprofit agencies
that support veterans in varying fashions. And now, these
six nonprofits are beginning to open their classroom doors
after looking at the needs to better help their local
Selected from a pool of 100 applicants,
each of the six has something different to offer its
veterans, across different regions of the country.
The six awardees are:
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, often cites the many benefits veterans bring to the
Able-Disabled Advocacy Inc., San
Diego - San Diego VetWORKS
Bellevue College, Bellevue,
Wash., - Project SUCCEED
Goodwill Industries of the
Southern Piedmont Inc., Charlotte, N.C., - Elevate
America's Veterans Initiative
Gulf Coast Workforce Board,
Panama City, Fla., - Mission: 21st Century
Per Scholas, New York City and
Miami, - Microsoft Veterans Employment Project
- Veterans Inc., Worcester, Mass., - Veterans Inc.
Employment and Training Program
“Veterans bring a maturity,” Mullen has
said. “They bring leadership. They bring a life experience.
They bring a dedication they may not have had when they were
17, 18 or 19 years old.”
The most-recent data from
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that
unemployed military veterans currently comprise 10.2 percent
of the national unemployment rate.
statistics in mind, Microsoft awarded the grants to train
unemployed veterans, and their spouses who also can't find
work, in the latest technology to ready them for the
21st-century job market, said Andrea Taylor, Microsoft's
director for North America Community Affairs.
the organizations awarded grants is able to offer more than
information technology training over the course of the
two-year program. Grant money also can go toward mentoring
and resume writing, career counseling and help with child
care and transportation.
In developing the programs
that would benefit returning veterans and their spouses,
Microsoft met with nationally recognized veterans service
organizations for guidance and feedback. This advisory group
included members from the American Legion, Iraq and
Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of
America, United Service Organizations and the Wounded
Taylor believes 190,000 individuals
could be assisted through the corporation's grants. She also
estimates that 40 percent of unemployed veterans also have
spouses in need of job training programs.
training programs just beginning at the six nonprofits, each
must address their veterans' individual needs. One of the
nonprofits is focusing on training for jobs that promise the
most growth in future years.
Veterans Inc., in
Worcester, Mass., helps veterans acquire new skills,
licenses and certifications for jobs they can hire into now,
while working on other skills necessary for jobs in the
The nonprofit is promoting information
technology training, and “a variety of industries in areas
that respond to the demands of the labor market,” said
retired Air Force veteran Vincent J. Perrone, the president
and chief executive officer for Veterans Inc.
opportunities might be in “green jobs in energy-efficient
building jobs, construction management, network security,
computer specialist jobs, project management, health care
support, and jobs as security guards, cooks and food
preparation workers,” Perrone said.
Veterans Inc. will offer workshops in resume writing,
interviewing for a job, life skills, nutrition, money
management, and tips on dressing for success.
program will serve veterans, returning service members, and
their spouses in need throughout Massachusetts,” he said.
“The projected number of participants to receive grant
services [at Veterans Inc.] is 130 to 170,” Perrone said,
predicting that 115 of his group's veterans will find work
in the first year.
Microsoft's veterans program is
supplemental to government agencies that offer benefits to
unemployed veterans, like the Department of Veterans
Affairs, Taylor said.
“Our program is intended to
build on what's already there,” she said.
young and old, seem to be ‘invisible members' in our
communities,” Taylor continued. “The young ones don't have
relationships with organizations that can help them,”
compared to the older set that's connected to groups such as
the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“Veterans have served their country and they've served
well,” Taylor said. “They have excellent training in
leadership skills, discipline and preparation. But what they
often lack is the ability to transition from those skills in
a military atmosphere, into civilian jobs.”