The Department of Labor has announced its latest phase of an outreach program for the group of Americans that should never be.Hilda Solis has marshaled the resources of the Labor Department to open up competition for job-training grants for homeless veterans totaling more than $5 million. The grants will be awarded to local nonprofit organizations and investment boards who will compete take part in the program.
"No one should face homelessness. But statistics reveal that a disturbingly large percentage of our homeless population is made up of veterans," she said in a department statement.
Indeed, there are some 107,000 homeless veterans in America, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. These grants are part of the Labor Department's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, which has 17,400 participants each year and draws upon an annual budget of $35 million a year.
"The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program will help these veterans prepare for and obtain meaningful employment so they can establish a more stable civilian life," the statement went on.
According to the Labor Department, roughly 60 percent of the participants secured employment in fiscal year 2010, at a level that enabled the veterans to be self-sustaining.
"This is one of the highest priorities of our agency," says Amit Magdieli, the chief of staff to the Labor Department's Veterans' Employment and Training Service, in an interview with AOL Jobs. "In qualifying for the grants, programs have to show their capabilities to serve these homeless veterans. It's a holistic approach that includes the ability to serve physical and mental disabilities. We want them to have meaningful careers."The job training preps the veterans for a wide-range of positions, Magdieli says, from green tasks like windmill work to truck driving.
The task of improving veterans' lives has been a top talking point for the Obama administration, and U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinsecki has stated the goal of reducing veteran homelessness to zero by 2015.
And while the number of homeless veterans is slipping -- the figure was estimated to be as high as 200,000 as recently as 2005, according to National Alliance to End Homelessness - other daunting statistics hang over the government's head. Unemployment for post-9/11 veterans is higher than the national average of 9% by roughly 2.5 points, and according to the Chamber of Commerce, there are roughly 1 million veterans looking for jobs.
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