Programs help military veterans get back to work

March 21, 2012

From “Programs help military veterans get back to work” — GRAND CHUTE — With thousands of U.S. combat troops pulling out of Iraq in December, for many it meant a return to civilian life and back to a 9-to-5 working routine.

But for some, there was no job waiting for them back home.

Fox Valley Technical College is reaching out to military veterans, offering programs to help adjust to civilian life and apply the skills learned while on activity duty to available jobs around the region.

“We knew with the downsizing (of our forces) in Iraq and Afghanistan that there would be increasing demand on services to help them find work,” said Bruce Weiland, a student employment services specialist at FVTC.

The state also expected a larger volume of returning veterans.

State lawmakers this month approved several bills designed to help veterans expedite the job search process.

One bill, which was signed by Gov. Scott Walker, streamlined the credentialing process for veterans in some instances allowing military personnel to apply the skills they learned while serving toward some professional credentials.

Walker, who was in Appleton on Friday, said jobless rates among veterans generally are higher than for civilians.

“What we’ve done is make it easier for returning veterans to get licenses for certain professions if they received similar training in the military,” he said. “Bills like this received overwhelming support, but just didn’t get the attention.”

The state also scheduled 15 career and benefit fairs this year for veterans.

From 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, the state is hosting a virtual career fair.

The Department of Labor reports there were 21.3 million veterans (men and women, 18 and older) in the country as of February. The state estimates 400,000 veterans live in Wisconsin and about 300,000 are wartime veterans.

The unemployment rate among veterans in February was 7.7 percent, down from 9.2 percent when compared to February 2011, but the number may climb as more military personnel return home and enter the job market.

The country’s overall jobless rate in February was 8.3 percent.

FVTC is offering two free, eight-week sessions designed to help veterans with everything from resume writing to explaining how someone with military experience can be beneficial to a potential employer.

The first session runs March 27 through May 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The other session begins March 29 and runs through May 17 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Both sessions will be at FVTC’s main campus in Grand Chute and are open to current students as well as any non-student veterans.

Weiland said the decision to offer the sessions grew out FVTC’s Veterans Connection, a networking group for current students who served in the military.

“We really want to reach out to any veterans and let them know these programs are available,” he said.


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