Program Poised to “Put Boots on the Ground” as Veteran Unemployment Rates Soar
February 8, 2012, DENVER, Colo. – Veterans Green Jobs, a national Denver-based nonprofit organization, has launched Veterans Green Force, an outreach, recruitment and placement program exclusively designed for military veterans. Veterans Green Force matches veterans’ military experience and interests to the skills needed by green sector employers, links them to training and educational programs to provide them with skills in key subject areas, and connects them with available jobs.
With key startup funding from the Call of Duty Endowment and Walmart, Veterans Green Force aims to connect with 1,000 veterans and place 30 percent, or 300, of them into full-time green sector jobs by mid-2013. Veterans Green Force will rely on strategic partnerships with private businesses, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, professional associations and higher education institutions that offer jobs or training programs to military veterans.
The national unemployment rate for post-9/11 military veterans is up to 9 percent and upwards of 30 percent for younger veterans, far above the national average. In addition to the two million who have served since 9/11, more than one million veterans are projected to leave the military between 2011 and 2016, placing increased demands on the workforce.
Recently, President Obama and Congress launched a series of government programs and incentives to abate the high unemployment rates of veterans and put them back to work in public and private sectors. In Colorado alone, some 49,000 veterans sought employment assistance in 2011 with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
Veterans Green Jobs is the largest nonprofit focused exclusively on putting veterans to work in the green jobs sector. Its areas of emphasis include energy efficiency and conservation; renewable and clean energy; green construction and building; natural resources and conservation; environmental remediation and response; and sustainable agriculture. Green jobs offer long-term economic, social and environmental benefits to the nation and its communities, and help to achieve energy independence and security. Veterans are well suited and trained for these jobs.
“For three years, all of our nonprofit’s work to train and employ veterans has formed the ‘building blocks’ for Veterans Green Force,” said Dr. Bill Doe, CEO of Veterans Green Jobs and a career Army veteran. “We’ve gained experience preparing hundreds of veterans for jobs in outdoor conservation, home energy efficiency, solar and wind energy, urban forestry and other sectors. Now, this work will come together under one program and we’ll be able to put more boots on the ground in the green sector than ever before,” he added.
To lead this strategic initiative, Veterans Green Jobs has hired Lieutenant Colonel (Retired, U.S. Army) John Toth as senior director of Veterans Programs. A decorated airborne-ranger infantry officer and combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Toth recently completed his military career as professor of military science at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He brings a wealth of experience working with post 9/11 soldiers and cadets.
“At Walmart, we’re serious about helping combat the high veteran unemployment rate, so we’re happy that part of our recent 2-year, $750,000 grant to Veterans Green Jobs is being used to support this initiative, which should help create what we all want – meaningful careers for our veterans,” said retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Gary Profit, senior director of military programs at Walmart.
Additionally, General James “Spider” Marks (USA-Ret.), Call of Duty Endowment advisory council member, said, “Working to ensure veterans receive the job training and job placement assistance they deserve is the top priority for the Call of Duty Endowment. When partnering with Bill Doe and Veterans Green Jobs, we knew they would take that priority and make it a reality – they know what service and sacrifice are all about. The new Veterans Green Force program will help create more opportunity for veterans to find meaningful employment and provide employers with a true and trusted work force.”
Veterans Green Jobs has already signed memorandums of understanding with Student Veterans of America, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, and Colorado State University, as well as several community colleges, including Bucks County Community College’s Green Jobs Academy in Pennsylvania. Veterans Green Jobs is also partnering with the Employer Support for Guard and Reserve, Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces, , and Colorado Hire Patriots/Rocky Mountain Veterans Alliance, in support of this initiative. Veterans Green Jobs will also work closely with state and federal employment and veteran support organizations.
According to James Schmeling, managing director of IVMF at Syracuse University, “The Institute for Veterans and Military Families is pleased to partner with Veterans Green Jobs to offer information and training on employment, recruitment and retention, assimilation and other corporate culture best practices in the employment of veterans. It’s also important to understand post-secondary educational opportunities which may enable veterans to pursue careers in the green sector. These are directly in line with our mission.”
A study conducted by Pew Research found that veterans who served on active duty in the post-9/11 era believe their military experience has helped them get ahead in life (74 percent) and that it has helped them prepare for a job or career (72 percent). Still, unemployment rates for former U.S. military servicemen and women soar well above the national average.
Veterans Green Jobs will immediately begin to connect with green sector businesses and industries to identify job opportunities for veterans, and will introduce its Veterans Green Force program to Colorado veterans at the Military and Veterans Employment Expo February 29-March 2, 2012 at the Goodwill Campus in Colorado Springs.