FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 10, 2012
AFTER PUSH FROM SCHUMER, FEDS RESTORE FUNDING PROGRAM CRITICAL TO ROCHESTER’S VETERANS OUTREACH CENTER–SENATOR CALLS ON FEDS TO DIRECT FUNDING TO SUCCESSFUL ROCHESTER CENTER & SUPPORT MISSION TO GET RETURNING VETS BACK ON THE JOB
After Schumer Push, the Department of Labor Funds Program Critical to Rochester’s Veterans Outreach Center’s Work to Train Veterans Returning From Iraq and Afghanistan & Match Them With Available Local Jobs – New Hope To Keep VOC Running Strong
Preservation of DOL Program Gives Rochester Center Chance to Compete for Funding to Find Jobs & Provide Job Training for Local Vets, Including Those Returning From Iraq and Afghanistan—Schumer Calls on DOL to Direct Grant Funding to Successful Rochester VOC
Schumer: Rochester VOC Is A Proven Success – Feds Can’t Leave Center Behind
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Department of Labor has heeded his call to preserve a key program this year that would allow Rochester’s Veteran’s Outreach Center to find jobs for hundreds of local veterans in the Rochester area. Schumer is now calling on DOL to direct a portion of this newly announced $12 million in grants to the Rochester center, so that the jobs program would not be forced to lay off employees who help local veterans train for the skills needed to land local jobs, provide career counseling services, green job training, and help connect returning veterans with new job openings. Previous to Schumer’s push, the Administration had not provided the necessary assurances to the VOC that it would make funds available to continue the VOC program after current funds expire on July 1. These DOL funds finance about 40% of the job placement work the Rochester center currently conducts. Schumer noted that throughout its existence, the center has placed thousands of veterans, both new veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan and those from prior wars, in local jobs, and if this newly allocated funding does not reach the center, it would deal a severe blow to the center’s mission. The center has also been rated as one of the top performing of its kind across the country and has been touted by administration officials as a model for the rest of the country. Given its unparalleled success, Schumer urged the administration not to end its support for the center, and to continue helping the Veterans Outreach Center place returning veterans in local jobs.
“A job is one of the most important parts of a veteran’s return to civilian life, and the federal government should be making it easier, not harder, for vets to land good-paying jobs. The Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester has turned that belief into a successful mission and runs an unparalleled workforce investment program for veterans that administration officials and veterans alike consider one of the best in the country. That is why I am pleased that the Department of Labor has heeded my call and made the necessary veteran job funding grants available without which the VOC’s incredible work would be stopped in its tracks. The next important step is for that grant funding to be directed to the Rochester Center, which should be a no-brainer given VOC’s incredible success, widely recognized by the administration. The Veterans Outreach Center’s work in connecting returning veterans with local employers and transitional housing is unparalleled, and I will fight to ensure that the 68,000 veterans in the Rochester region, who have sacrificed so much for our country, are not left behind.”
“VOC appreciates the immediate response and strong support provided by Senator Charles Schumer and his staff in helping to emphasize and reinforce the value of VWIP to the veterans in the Greater Rochester area,” said Peter Blind, Vice President of Workforce Development at the VOC. “For our newest returning service men and women, as well as other veterans with combat experience, disabilities, and serious barriers to employment, VWIP concentrates on career-oriented long term solutions, preventing instability that can lead to the risk of homelessness before it begins to take root. VOC has proven that prevention is more cost effective than cure, and continues to urge support for continuing initiatives to give our nation’s heroes the ‘hands-up’ they need to reintegrate into the communities they defended.”
Schumer visited the Veterans Outreach Center on May 1st , urging the Administration not to end its support for the center, and the U.S. Department of Labor heeded that call shortly after and announced the availability of approximately $12 million in competitively awarded grants through the Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program (VWIP) to provide job training and skills development services to help Veterans succeed in civilian careers. The department will award at least 10 grants in 10 states to support approximately 6,000 Veterans overcome employment barriers and ease their transition into unsubsidized jobs. Schumer is calling on the Department of Labor to select the VOC as a recipient of one of these grants, which would be awarded by July and would prevent any interruption in VOC’s program.
Funds are being awarded on a competitive basis to state and local workforce investment boards, local public agencies and nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and community organizations. Grantees must be familiar with the areas and populations to be served and have demonstrated that they can administer effective programs. Without continued funding from DOL, the Rochester Veterans Outreach Center could be forced to end its highly regarded Veterans Workforce Investment Program (VWIP), which has placed hundreds of veterans in the 5 county Greater Rochester area in meaningful careers and productive jobs since 2006, as early as July of this year. The VOC expects to submit its application for these funds this month and Schumer is calling on DOL to select Rochester’s VOC as a recipient of these newly announced grants.
VOC’s program, one of the best-performing VWIP veteran training programs in the country based on the amount of dollars spent per veteran job placement, would be terminated with the loss of this funding. Schumer noted that the VOC has proven time and again that it outperforms other VWIP providers, spending 36% less per veteran job placement while achieving 27% more placements in 2011 alone, and should be funded throughout the DOL’s transition process to any retooled final program. In fact, DOL and Administration officials agreed about the VOC’s exceptional effectiveness, and hailed the program during a September 2011 tour as "one of the best in the country." Schumer applauds the administration for making this $12 million grant round available which can fund programs like the VOC's program for the next three years while the DOL moves forward with its plans to eventually retool and improve is veteran job training funding programs. Earlier this year the DOL announced its plans to discontinue the WVIP grant program in 2013, but as of last week had not provided the assurances called for by Senator Schumer to ensure program providers, like the VOC, could continue their work over at least the next 12 months without interruption while the DOL transitioned next year to new funding programs.
Established in 1973, the Veterans Outreach Center is one of the oldest of its kind, and successfully places 3 of 4 veterans in meaningful employment. A great deal of VOC’s success, particularly its VWIP program, relies on DOL funding. For instance, in June 2011, Schumer announced a combined $570,000 U.S. Department of Labor grant for the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester. The VOC received a $300,000 U.S. DOL grant to continue its successful HVRP program, through which the VOC assesses, enrolls, and then places homeless veterans in meaningful employment. It also received a $270,000 U.S. DOL grant to continue its VWIP program, which is the only program of its kind operating in New York State. The VWIP is targeted to assist all veterans, not simply homeless veterans, in the general population to find meaningful employment, such as veterans who are seeking civilian employment after working at a nearby military installation like Fort Drum.
Moreover, in 2009, the VOC leveraged its VWIP funding to begin the truly innovative Green Initiative for Veterans Employment (GIVE) program, which, in partnership with 21 local companies such as Isaac Heating and Cooling, trained dozens of local veterans for new green-sector industries and placed 90% of the program's graduates into good-paying local jobs. Last year alone, the center received 3,280 visits to its Employment Resource Center, where veterans received vocational counseling and skill assessments, occupational skills training, resume preparation and job search assistance.
The Veterans Outreach Center offers transitional housing, mental health services, educational and vocational training programs, and other supportive services for veterans and their families; and provides referrals to community resources for substance abuse treatment, domestic violence issues, post-traumatic stress disorders, parenting skills, and other personal development and empowerment programs. As the oldest community-based veteran outreach effort in the nation, the VOC opened in 1973 to support Vietnam veterans coping with their wartime experiences and to facilitate government benefits claims. Since then the VOC has evolved to meet the contemporary and ever-changing need of all veterans to “serve those who serve U.S.”