Whenever I talk about providing job skills and opportunities to our U.S. veterans, I usually say that the Orange County business community can do better for these brave men and women.
Today, I’m proud to report something very different: Orange County has come far in offering meaningful employment to veterans. Our work in this space — since 2013 — has become so well regarded that we are being held as a model not just for the state of California, but for the entire nation. But, still, we can do better.
Recently Goodwill of Orange County’s Tierney Center for Veteran Services received a surprise visit from officials of the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C. Our Tierney Center serves the increasing number of veterans and immediate family in Orange County with employment and career counseling, education services, housing assistance, health care, legal benefits, financial consulting and services for women veterans.
The D.C. officials wanted to learn more about the program. We’ve demonstrated an ability to work efficiently, cost-effectively and successfully. By the time they left, the officials said they’d like to see the work being done in Orange County expanded nationwide.
Already, we are the statewide point of contact for the V.A. In one year, the starting salary for veterans in our program has jumped from $12.50 an hour to $25.04. They’re getting the kinds of jobs they deserve. Recently we placed three warriors with NASA.
We’ve expanded our program to nine Goodwill locations in California with several more to follow, including Bakersfield, Long Beach and Ventura. Each of the Goodwills are using our case management and education programming, helping veterans translate battlefield experience into civilian skills on resumes and in job interviews. Most of all, they are doing better for veterans.
We have forged strong relationships with hiring representatives in large organizations across a variety of fields. These folks don’t just hold job fairs, they teach veterans what they are looking for and how to approach interviews to successfully land the jobs they want. And it is working in record numbers.
On Sept. 7, I have the honor of speaking on a panel at the American Warrior Partnership Conference in Atlanta. I am speaking on best practices in community integration, sharing about the work we’re doing here in Orange County, and discussing what I see as a three-step process to doing better:
1. Don’t be afraid to take the lead. Orange…