The Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI) rolls out in yet another city this week – St. Louis, MO – thanks to the support of campaign champion The Mission Continues.
The St. Louis effort kicks off at The Mission Continues headquarters with a roundtable discussion on how to best increase and improve Veteran education and employment opportunities in the St. Louis area. The Mission Continues works to empower Veterans across the country by helping them find purpose through civic action.
St. Louis Regional Office director Mitzi Marsh and Acting VA Medical Center director Patricia Ten Haaf will participate in the roundtable along with city and county officials, representatives from the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce, leaders from local educational institutions – including Washington University St. Louis and Webster University – and other businesses, nonprofits and government organizations.
“We’re excited at the prospect of working with more Veterans and transitioning Servicemembers through the Veterans Economic Communities Initiative,” said Alex Miller, vice president of programs at LaunchCode, one of the launch partners. LaunchCode is a St. Louis nonprofit that sets up paid IT apprenticeships for talented employees who don’t have the credentials they need to start an IT career. “These are people who’ve already demonstrated incredible drive and commitment through their service. LaunchCode aims to connect them with the training and mentorship that can put them on a path to good-paying jobs in technology.”
The St. Louis metro area is home to more than 200,000 Veterans with almost 100,000 Veterans participating in the local labor force.* Although local Veteran unemployment (8.4%) is lower than non-Veteran unemployment (9.2%), there is still a lot of work to be done to help transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans in the community achieve long-term economic success.**
The discussion at today’s launch will focus on what local organizations – large and small – can do next to serve this community. Heidi Schoen, VA’s economic liaison in St. Louis, will lead the conversation and provide an overview of the Veterans Employment Center – the federal government’s centralized online source of Veteran hiring.
The VECI campaign will deploy to 25 communities by the end of summer. If you’re an employer, community leader or nonprofit in the St. Louis area and you’re interested in participating in the VECI initiative, join the campaign and get involved by sending an email to VeteranEmployment.email@example.com.
This article was written by VA’s Office of Transition, Employment and Economic Impact.
* Veteran population estimates, as of September 30, 2013, are produced by the VA Office of the Actuary
** Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates