New program aims to put vets to work
(pictured above: Veterans Sherod James (left) and Christopher Rose.)
City native Christopher Rose wouldn’t trade his seven years in the Navy for the world.
“I had honestly what I would consider to be a great time in the military,” he said. “…I loved it.”
However, since leaving the military in 1998, things haven’t been so easy for the father of two. Despite the training and experience he received, Rose quickly discovered that finding employment as a civilian was easier said than done.
“It was difficult to find the type of job that I wanted to do,” noted the 40-year-old. “I was a communications electrician, and the biggest problem that I had was that they were looking for people with experience in the civilian sectors, and the only experience I had was in the military.”
The last 15 years, Rose has held a wide variety of jobs, from an associate in a video game arcade, to a forklift operator for Sam’s Club. By last fall, he had made it back to his first love and was working as an electrician technician, but he was forced to give up his job to care for his wife, who was ill. Rose took what he hopes will be his first step back into the working world last week, at the Goodwill on University Parkway, where Ability Services Program Manager Eddie Moser welcomed the first local participants in Operation: GoodJobs. The new program offers veterans help to find – and keep – sustainable jobs with livable wages.
“We want to help you guys,” Moser told Rose and two others who braved snowy conditions to attend an open house event for the program on Jan. 29. “You have done a great service for us. We appreciate what you’ve done, and we want to say thank-you with more than words; we want to help you find jobs.”
GoodJobs is exclusively offered to vets and their families, and is tailored to suit their unique challenges and needs. The program was launched in Austin and Houston, TX, and Tacoma, Wash. in 2012, and has served over 800 people thus far.
I think it’s a wonderful thing,” Rose said of the program, which is supported by a $5 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. “I think it’s a really nice thing for them to do; I’m appreciative of it even if I can’t ultimately find employment from it. I appreciate that there are people out there that … care about the service that veterans provide.”
Through GoodJobs, veterans, their spouses and their employment aged children will have access to a bevy of resources, from scholarships that cover the cost of courses Forsyth Tech offers at Goodwill, to resume writing services designed to describe military duties in “civilian friendly” ways, and building their Internet presence through networking sites such as LinkedIn.
We’re here to serve you,” Moser told the vets. “We sincerely want to see you succeed.”
Torrence Martin, who served in the Army from 2005-2011, believes his veteran status has worked against him in his quest to find employment.
“I’ve been filling out applications everywhere. I’ve been going to interview after interview, but I’m not hearing nothing back,” he said. “I came to the conclusion that employers don’t want to hire veterans.”
There are no guarantees, but between Goodwill’s resources and expertise and the build-to-suit setup of the program, the veterans’ prospect is good, said Moser, who has helped job seekers find employment through the agency for the past four years. Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, which will oversee GoodJobs sites in Forsyth and Catawba counties, is part of the second phase of the program’s rollout, and the only GoodJobs location in the Southeast. Moser said she she is especially hoping to reach some of the most underserved veteran populations – females and young adults – through GoodJobs.
“What I’m really excited about is trying to connect what they’ve done in the military with jobs here, because a lot of employers are saying they want to hire veterans,” Moser said. “…Veterans make great employees because they’ve got the discipline, they’ve got the leadership skills.”
have been tough for former Army National Guard serviceman Sherod James since he lost his job a year ago, but James, a father of one, said he was heartened by the support and information he will have access to as a GoodJobs participant.
“It’s given me a lot of optimism and a hope toward my future, making sure that I’ll have a secure job once I finish my training, and they have my best interests at heart,” said James, who is pursuing an associate’s degree at ITT Technical Institute. “Here, I have a plethora of things I can sort of dive into if I need training. I’m just glad to be here. I’m glad that I have that opportunity.”
By the end of Moser’s presentation, Martin said he was feeling a lot better about his prospects, so much so that he is planning to encourage his younger brother, an Iraq War veteran, to join GoodJobs.
“It’s going to be a good program – I know it is,” he declared. “You just gotta stay with it.”
Goodwill Industries of Northwest NC will host Open House sessions weekly on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. at 2701 University Parkway and at 12 p.m. on the second floor of the Goodwill Professional Center at 450 W. Hanes Mill Road. For more information, contact Moser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-724-3621.