VA and the U.S. Department of Labor are joining forces to help Veterans who are facing homelessness secure and maintain employment.
Through VA’s Homeless Programs Office, Veterans who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness receive ongoing support services, medical care, and housing. But employment is also a key element in helping Veterans avoid or exit homelessness.
Recently, VA’s Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services and Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Services’ Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program hosted a joint webinar to promote housing stability and employment opportunities for Veterans. VA’s Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services provides vocational assistance, job development and placement, and ongoing support. This support increases employment among Veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services has also deployed more than 200 vocational development specialists. They serve as community employment coordinators or employment specialists at most VA medical centers across the country. As part of the VA homeless program team, community employment coordinators create a bridge to community employment resources and employers who are ready to hire Veterans exiting homelessness.
The Department of Labor Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program works with Veterans who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The program offers comprehensive support Veterans need to find and maintain meaningful employment. Program staff use their knowledge of communities, and Veterans experiencing, at risk of or in transition from homelessness. They conduct aggressive outreach to engage and serve Veterans. The program provides assessment, case management, supportive services, and career-driven training and placement services. They also coordinate with numerous workforce, housing, and other community-based partners to support the success of the Veterans they serve.
Helping Veterans find a job
Paul Cary is a Veteran who was living on the streets for three months. He used Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services and Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program services provided through People Assisting The Homeless (PATH). His VA Grant and Per Diem Social Worker referred him to the West Los Angeles VA Community Resource and Referral Center, where he was introduced to his PATH Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program employment specialist.
“I had no friends or family to turn to,” Cary said. He also said he felt alone.
“I felt like I was the only person left on the planet. I was embarrassed and ashamed — too ashamed to ask for help.”
Now living in Long Beach, California, he said he is experiencing a spiritual rebirth.
The Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services provided him with updates regarding his pending service-connected disability claim. Due to homelessness, Cary wasn’t aware that he had been granted a 70% disability rating until the community employment coordinators helped connect him to the Veterans Benefits Administration. The Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program helped Cary build his resume and apply for jobs online. This enabled him to obtain and maintain competitive employment.
The Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program also provided funding for Cary’s forklift certification. This brought him one step closer to his long-term employment goal of working for SpaceX, an aerospace company. He currently has a second interview scheduled for a materials handler position.
- At the recent joint VA-Department of Labor webinar about their ongoing collaboration, representatives from Veterans Health Administration, Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Services, and the National Veterans’ Technical Assistance Center provided overviews of Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services and Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program and highlighted some of their partnerships in action. Watch the webinar at https://nvtac.org/grantees/trainingforgrantees/, then scroll down to September 30, 2020: VHA – HVRP Introduction.
- Visit VA’s Homeless Veterans website to learn about employment initiatives and other programs for Veterans exiting homelessness.
- Visit the DOL website to learn more about Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program. View the National Veterans’ Technical Assistance Center Find a Grantee page to locate Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program grantees in specific areas.
Dr. Carma Heitzmann is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is the director of Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services in the VHA Homeless Program Office.