Efforts to help vets find work spread in Florida

12/30/2016

Efforts to help vets find work spread in Florida

One of the big issues that many veterans face after they leave the service is that they sometimes have difficulty finding work. This issue can create myriad problems for anyone, let alone vets who may not have enough experience in civilian life, or could have mental or physical problems that further hamper their chances. With this in mind, more is now being done on the part of many organizations - including those within the government - to improve veterans' work prospects.

This is especially true in the state of Florida, where one lawmaker recently filed a bill in the state legislature to help ensure vets have ample access to employment opportunities in the Sunshine State, according to a report from the Miami Herald. Specifically, SB 152 would extend sizable grants - totaling $10 million over a period of several years - to small businesses that hire veterans, in particular. 

More vets may soon be able to find work in Florida thanks to a number of efforts.More vets may soon be able to find work in Florida thanks to a number of efforts.

A closer look at the proposal
Specifically, the distributed grants could total as much as $900,000 per year, the report said. Under the program, small businesses would receive $3,000 for hiring a veteran and $5,000 for hiring a veteran with disabilities. The group Florida Is For Veterans would administer these grants.

No small business would be able to receive more than $25,000 in grants in any given year, the report said. The bill, advanced by state Sen. Rene Garcia - a Republican representing Hialeah - will not be voted on until the Florida Senate opens its next legislative session in early 2017.

Other efforts underway
Meanwhile, while it's certainly a good idea to encourage companies to hire veterans, it's also important to make sure former service members have all the skills necessary to enter the workforce and have that transition be as smooth as possible, according to a report from the Lakeland Ledger. That includes everything from the training they will need to actually perform jobs in their fields of interest to something as simple as putting together a resume and learning basic job interview skills.

To that end, Lakeland resident Susannah Wesley-Ahlschwede recently started a nonprofit called Battlefield to Boardroom, which provides many of these necessary services to vets in the area at no cost, the report said. The organization only began in May and has assisted 74 veterans so far. Of that group, nearly half already have jobs as a direct result of the assistance they received. Vets who have gone through the program say it's a real difference-maker in their job searches.

"This is so good because it's really needed," Adam Winchester, a local veteran who now serves on the board for Battlefield to Boardroom, told the newspaper. "I have known so many guys who thought they were going to get out and get great jobs but couldn't because their resumes weren't strong enough."

Often, the process starts with vets just writing down the skills they acquired during their military service and the kinds of jobs they did, the report said. Then, the organization works to find local job openings that line up with those needs.

This kind of service is crucial because many younger veterans, in particular, can struggle to find work, the report said. The most recent data shows that vets who served after 2001 have an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, significantly higher than the national average. That leaves about 150,000 without jobs but actively looking for work, while many more have likely just given up the search.

Veterans often prove to be dedicated and fastidious workers who stand out among their peers, so all it may take is a little encouragement for businesses and assistance for the former service members themselves to make successful, lasting job connections.

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