Career camp helps veterans find work
The United Way of Broward County has set aside $1.2 million to help veterans in a program called Mission United, which focuses on helping vets find work, and on Saturday the program will send some vets back to boot camp. Sort of.
Starting at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Mission United will host Career Boot Camp at the United Way headquarters, 1300 S. Andrews Ave. It’s free, and vets need only to call to register, and bring a copy of their discharge. For those on active duty, ID will do. During the event, counseling is available as well as medical, legal and even financial assistance, and a free breakfast.
“Our veterans are coming home really wounded, beyond anything that’s ever happened before,” said Nancy Vaniman, Mission United’s executive director and retired commander in the U.S. Navy. “It’s making their transition into civilian life harder because they have not only the obstacles of getting a new job, they face medical issues. Like physical and traumatic brain injuries, as well as post traumatic stress disorder.”
There are more than 110,000 veterans in Broward County, Vaniman said, “and only a quarter of them have registered for Veterans Administration health care. We encourage them to register, but if they don’t want to go to the VA, we’re funding private providers.”
It’s about jobs, too, said Mundy Gallagher, Mission United’s career specialist.
Unemployment rates for veterans were just under 10 percent last year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The nation’s unemployment rate was a fraction below 8 percent. “Veterans will be assigned hiring specialists to work with them for 30 days,” Gallagher said, “sharing knowledge, coaching for interviews, tweaking resumes.
“At the end of the 30 days we’ll have a networking reception,” Gallagher said. “Human resources staffers from area businesses will be on hand, offering tips on networking.”
“We’re looking at the barriers this generation is facing,” Vaniman said. “We’ve recruited over 200 attorneys to provide free legal services to the veterans and their families so they can navigate through the disability system. We have specialists in family law, if they need it. A lot of veterans have housing issues and there are attorneys for them, too.”
Gallagher said that United Way has “made a commitment to offer these Boot Camps quarterly. Our first one was last July, when 18 veterans showed up. So far we have 32 registered for this one. We try to keep it to a smaller group because we want one-on-one action rather than big classrooms.”
Vaniman observed that many veterans endure hardship needlessly, because they don’t know what’s available.
“We have a phone number to call, 954-486-4833. It’s answered 24/7,” she said. “We deal with emergencies right away. If they need other services they’ll be referred to a provider, who will contact them within 72 hours. Someone will sit down and talk with the veteran, prepare a comprehensive assessment, foreclosure advice or whatever. We’ll deal with it.”
Vaniman added, “We are the first United Way to take on this initiative and we’d like to become the model. We’ve contracted with Nova Southeastern University to evaluate our program. Once that’s finished we can see what else has to be done.”
For veterans wishing to register, call Mundy Gallagher at 954-462-4850 ext. 135 or email email@example.com.