A Partner Success Story in Ending Veteran Homelessness
VA Community Employment Coordinator Organizes Career Expo for Veterans Exiting Homelessness
New Hampshire Governor and Senator Attend
Amy's Story | Dec. 10, 2015
Many Veterans who are homeless have in-demand skills that employers can put to use to meet the needs of an expanding job market. This is the situation across the country, but especially in states like New Hampshire, which have lower than average unemployment rates and a high need for qualified workers. Yet Veterans who are homeless may be perceived as unemployable, unreliable or unqualified, and not given a chance to apply for open positions.
Enter Amy Brady, a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Community Employment Coordinator (CEC) who works at the Manchester, New Hampshire, VA Medical Center. As a CEC, her task is to connect job-ready Veterans who are homeless with employment opportunities. Ms. Brady is one of 150 CECs working around the country for VA’s Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services (HVCES) to help end and prevent Veteran homelessness through employment.
As November’s National Career Development Month approached, Ms. Brady sought support for a special New Hampshire proclamation focusing on Veteran career development.
“I wanted our state’s career development activities to raise awareness about Veterans’ community employment as a way to reduce homelessness,” Ms. Brady said. “Given how important good jobs are to their long-term success, I asked our New Hampshire governor and state delegation to consider focusing our career month on Veterans.”
As the proclamation idea gained steam, Ms. Brady and others decided to also organize a career expo to bring together Granite State Veterans who are homeless or considered at risk, employers, VA staff and community partners. With the backing of VA leadership and the help of Veterans Employment Collaborative (VEC)—a joint VA-community group with the mission of employing Veterans—Ms. Brady built support for the proclamation and awareness of the career expo.
Ms. Brady secured the backing of New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Manchester VA Acting Director Danielle S. Ocker, who all took part in what was eventually called the Veterans Career Development and Benefits Expo.
As Ms. Ocker noted before the event, “unemployment and underemployment are two of the most critical issues affecting homeless Veterans.” The aim of HVCES program, she said, is to provide “employment-related services to Veterans who are unemployed, underemployed or at risk of becoming unemployed, with the aim of increasing their employability.”
To get the word out to employers who were hiring and to Veterans looking for work, Ms. Brady and her collaborating partners crafted an event program, used the VA ending Veterans homelessness employment toolkit to create flyers and a poster, sent out a media release, issued formal invitations, conducted community outreach and registered interested attendees.
The event on Nov. 20, 2015, was a smashing success. In addition to the governor and several members of the New Hampshire delegation, the expo was attended by 106 Veterans and partners and 36 employers offering 225 job openings, including Comcast, GI Plastek, Fedex, Lowes and Starbucks.
Gov. Hassan kicked off the expo by issuing Ms. Brady’s sought-after proclamation, which dedicated November as Veterans Career Development Month in New Hampshire. The governor said the decree was issued with “all Veterans in mind, and the intent that we reaffirm our commitment to those who have served.”
The declaration elevates public awareness of the challenges experienced by Veterans who are unemployed and helps reduce stigma and stereotypes faced by Veterans who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness.
Gov. Hassan also noted the link between employment and homelessness. “Studies show that gainful employment at a livable wage, with opportunities for advancement, is the foundation for maintaining economic stability and reducing the risk of becoming homeless,” the governor said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this event and of the support we received from our state’s leaders and VA,” Ms. Brady said. “I’m ready to start planning next year’s event!”
For More Information
Learn more about VA’s homeless programs by visiting www.va.gov/homeless.
Find the nearest CEC online at www.va.gov/HOMELESS/cec-contacts.asp.
If you know a Veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, refer him or her to a local VA Medical Center, where VA staff are ready to help. Veterans and their families can also call 1-877-4AID-VET to get connected to VA services.
Download and share information, available at www.va.gov/homeless/get_involved.asp.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (left) joins Ms. Brady at the Veterans Career Development and Benefits Expo.