Oct. 21, 2011, DENVER, Colo. – The Denver Department of Human Services awarded Veterans Green Jobs $100,000 from its Community Services Block Grant program to assist low-income and homeless veterans with employment services. The grant will enable Veterans Green Jobs, through its Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Program to recruit and place 10 qualifying veterans into a transitional work program designed to help develop skills and qualifications for jobs in the green sector. The PCS Program will also identify and work with local businesses interested in hiring veterans.
“We want to create a group of local businesses that can truly call themselves ‘veteran friendly’ employers,” said Garett Reppenhagen, director of veterans’ transitions for Veteran Green Jobs. “These 10 veterans will be the first of many to benefit from work opportunities with employers in our community who are committed to serving those who served our country.”
Participating veterans will begin work with either Veterans Green Jobs’ low-income residential weatherization program in Denver and Jefferson County, or the Denver-based Go Green Warehouse, Veterans Green Jobs’ discount home improvement store that is open to the public. In addition to on-the-job training, veterans will receive career counseling for long-term employment in the green sector, referral services for transportation and housing, and job placement assistance.
In keeping with its mission of putting veterans to work in green sector jobs, Veterans Green Jobs hired Hank Martin as veteran support case manager for this pilot program. Martin, who served with the Colorado Army National Guard, has a strong career background in vocational counseling, social services, job development, outreach and community relations.
“These veterans come home with a strong sense of pride and dignity for their service,” Martin said. “Then they are faced with a lack of jobs and a lot of bureaucracy and they begin to lose faith and confidence. PCS will help restore a sense of service to these struggling veterans.”
Permanent Change of Station is a common military term used when a service member moves to a new station and often includes an improvement in rank, pay and lifestyle. The PCS Program is designed to help veterans improve their employability by temporarily hiring them at Veterans Green Jobs, which will give them a current employment history, professional references, a stabilizing wage and a chance to develop a great work ethic. It will support veterans with individual case management to identify employment barriers and connect them with other community resources that will help them search for and maintain jobs.
The PCS Program will work with other veterans assistance organizations including Bayaud Enterprises, Denver Inner City Parish and local employers as part of a Veterans Employment Network.
What distinguishes this program from other employment assistance initiatives is its commitment to working with employer partners to improve the hiring process and the retention rate. Veterans Green Jobs will build relationships with companies that commit to hiring veterans. Companies that would like to learn more about this program and suggestions for ways to become a “veteran-friendly” employer should contact Garett Reppenhagen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-236-1300.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs, between 107,000 and 300,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. About 1.5 million veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks and dismal living conditions.
Veterans Green Jobs recognizes a critical national need to reverse the high rates of joblessness among veterans, especially those who are homeless, low-income, minorities or women. This is the second program that Veterans Green Jobs has undertaken to support homeless veterans in the City of Denver. Previously, Veterans Green Jobs worked with the Department of Parks and Recreation to train homeless veterans in urban landscaping as part of the city’s urban landscaping and energy efficiency programs.
About Veterans Green Jobs
Veterans Green Jobs is a national nonprofit whose mission is to engage, transition and connect military veterans with meaningful employment opportunities that serve our communities and environment. Under a contract with the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office, Veterans Green Jobs weatherizes income-qualified homes in Denver, Jefferson County and the San Luis Valley. In partnership with conservation corps and land management agencies, the nonprofit helps veteran crews gain skills and training in outdoor conservation and natural resource management. The organization is currently creating an outreach, recruitment and placement program that will connect veterans with green industry employers and certified training programs. The nonprofit’s Go Green Warehouse is a discount home improvement materials store whose sales proceeds support job and training programs for military veterans. See www.veteransgreenjobs.org for more information.