By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 1, 2011 – As part of an interagency effort to support America’s veterans, the Labor Department today announced $37 million in grants to provide job training for about 21,000 veterans, many of them homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis announced the grants today, awarded to continue successful programs into their second and third years.
Twenty-two grants totaling more than $9 million will provide job training to about 4,000 veterans to help them succeed in civilian careers, Labor Department officials said.
Those funds, provided through the Veterans Workforce Investment Program, emphasize training in “green” jobs related to energy efficiency and renewable energy, modern electric power development and clean vehicles.
“Our veterans sacrifice so much for our country, so it is important that we provide assistance to them when they return home from active duty,” Solis said. “These grants will help veterans access the resources they need to find good jobs and build a bright future for themselves and their families.”
Solis also announced 122 grants totaling more than $28 million to provide job training to about 17,000 veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
These grants, awarded under the Labor Department’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, include $4.3 million for the Homeless Female Veterans and Veterans with Families Program and $3.9 million for the Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program that helps veterans who have served time in justice facilities, officials said.
Homeless veterans may receive occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job-search and placement assistance and follow-up services, through the programs.
“The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program is recognized as an extraordinarily efficient and effective program, and is the only federal program that focuses exclusively on employment of veterans who are homeless,” Solis said. “I am pleased that the department can assist these veterans and their families.”
The Labor Department grants are awarded to state and local agencies, boards and nonprofit organizations that have demonstrated through first-year funding their ability to administer effective programs to veterans within their geographic areas, officials said.
More information on the Labor Department’s unemployment and re-employment programs
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen has been a staunch advocate of programs to support veterans who have transitioned from military service.
“They bring home a potential that is unimaginable for the future of our country,” he said May 11 at Arizona State University’s Phoenix campus. “This is an exceptional group, and they will make a difference for a long time to come.”
Mullen recognized the Post-9/11 GI Bill as a big step in helping tens of thousands of veterans get the training and education many seek. But he also called communities a key part of helping combat veterans make a smooth transition following wartime service.
“If we can just open up our lens to be inclusive of them as they return home, with that little boost, I really believe they will take off and make a huge difference for the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki is leading President Barack Obama’s effort to eliminate homelessness among veterans by 2015.
“As the president has said, ‘We’re not going to be satisfied until every veteran who has fought for America has a home in America,’” Shinseki told the Marine Corps League in February. “If you wonder what I will be working on for the next several years, this is it. We will end veteran homelessness in 2014.”