FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 1, 2012
SCHUMER: FED PLAN TO END FUNDING TO ROCHESTER’S VETERANS OUTREACH CENTER WOULD BE A MAJOR BLOW TO CENTER’S ABILITY TO HELP RETURNING VETS FIND JOBS – SENATOR PUSHES TO SAVE PROGRAM THAT HAS PLACED HUNDREDS OF LOCAL VETS IN JOBS
Today, at the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the federal government to preserve a key program that has helped the center find jobs for hundreds of local veterans in the Rochester area. Currently, the Administration has plans to end Department of Labor funding for this Veterans’ job program, which would force the center to lay off employees who help local veterans train for the skills needed to land local jobs, provide career counseling services, and help connect returning veterans with new job openings. The federal funding helps finance about 40% of the job placement work the center currently conducts, and losing the assistance would be a severe blow to its work. 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. 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.
“There are 68,000 veterans in the Rochester region and more and more returning home each day from Iraq and Afghanistan. After these brave men and women return home from defending our freedom, the least we can do is provide top-rate job-training and other services once back here in Rochester,” said Schumer. “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 runs an unparalleled workforce investment program for veterans that administration officials and veterans alike consider one of the best in the country, but all of that critical work to get Rochester vets back on track in career-path jobs could come to a halt in the months ahead. Given VOC’s incredible success in Rochester, it is absolutely imperative that Department Of Labor abandon this decision, reverse course, and preserve this key program at the VOC. The feds shouldn’t turn their back on our heroes when they return home, and should continue helping the Veterans Outreach Center connect returning veterans with local employers and transitional housing, to help make sure that our veterans, who have sacrificed so much for our country, are not left behind.”
Schumer expressed serious concerns for the continued existence of the workforce program at VOC, based on the Veterans Employment and Training Service program’s proposed budget submitted to Congress for the coming fiscal year, which would end the VWIP program in June 2013. While the overall program would expire in 2013, the VOC program would actually run out of federal funding sooner, at the end of June in 2012. While Schumer understands the need to streamline and revise workforce programs to increase effectiveness and accountability, Schumer called for DOL to live up to its commitment to provide transitional funding so that this VOC program can continue uninterrupted while DOL retools its workforce development programs in the next several months.
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 is therefore urging the administration to reverse course and preserve this key program at the VOC for returning veterans. While the administration decides how to maintain key programs for veteran job placement moving forward, Schumer is urging the administration to continue providing funding beyond June of 2012, so that the program is not forced to temporarily or, in the worst case scenario permanently, shut down.
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.”.
A copy of Schumer’s letter appears below:
Dear Secretary Solis,
I am writing to strongly urge the Department of Labor to ensure the continued and effective operation of a Veterans Employment and Training Service (USDOL-VETS) program administered by the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester, New York. Specifically, I am concerned that, without assurances of continued funding from DOL, the Rochester Veterans Outreach Center (VOC) will be forced as soon as July to end its highly regarded Veterans Workforce Investment Program (VWIP) which has placed hundreds of Rochester area veterans in meaningful careers and productive jobs since 2006.
Since its founding in Rochester in 1973 by veterans to serve veterans, the VOC has pioneered effective ways to improve the lives of our nation's veterans and often served as a national best-practices model. As such it is not surprising that the VOC was selected by DOL in 2006 as one of only 17 competitively awarded VWIP grantees nation-wide, and the only provider in all of New York State serving veterans in Monroe, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, and Wayne counties. Funded with annual VWIP grants, the VOC has consistently met and exceeded the VWIP program goals over the past 60 months by enrolling 710 veterans for career assistance of which 619 (87%) were trained and 503 (71%) were placed in meaningful employment. 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, trained dozens of local veterans for new green-sector industries and placed 90% of the program's graduates into good-paying local jobs.
I am deeply concerned that the VOC effort which produced all of the veteran job gains in the greater Rochester area over the past five years will be forced to abruptly end without immediate assurances of continued funding by the DOL. In its FY2013 proposed Budget Justification submitted to Congress, the USDOL-VETS proposes to end the WVIP program in June 2013, citing a desire to streamline veteran employment programs and improve the ratio of cost per job placement, and likely replace it with another funding program. While I appreciate and applaud DOL for striving to revise programs to ensure the greatest accountability and effectiveness for taxpayers dollars in terms of amount spent per job placement, I want to underscore that the VOC has proved time and again it outperforms other VWIP providers, spending 36% less per veteran job placement while achieving 27% more placements in 2011 alone. Indeed, high ranking USDOL and Administration officials toured the VOC in Rochester last September and hailed the program as "one of the best in the country."
And while the DOL's FY13 Budget Justification states it is the agency's intention to "explore transition options" to help bridge fund these programs until a new permanent program is in place, the DOL has yet to advise the VOC of these plans. Meanwhile the current VOC VWIP funding period ends this June 31, 2012 and DOL has yet to provide assurances as to how they intend to fund the program for the next year. I ask that DOL quickly respond to the VOC's request for guidance and continue to support their efforts whether by providing a grant modification to extend funding through the next 12 months or by some other appropriate means.
With 68,000 veterans in the Rochester region and thousands more returning veterans from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan every day, it is incumbent that DOL move forward on its transition funding plans to continue this effort which the agency itself lauded as exceptionally effective. The VOC has created a win-win in Rochester by providing employers with the trained workers they need while placing veterans in good paying career-path jobs.
Charles E. Schumer
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