New Partnership Will Help Connect Veterans with Jobs

City Hall – City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Small Business Committee Chair Diana Reyna and Veterans Committee Chair Mathieu Eugene, today announced a partnership with Seedco, a non-profit organization that advances economic opportunities for people and communities, and the city’s Workforce1 Career Centers to assist returning veterans with job placement and better prepare them to enter the workforce. The program, Veterans Employment Transition Education Reintegration and Network Services (VETERANS) connects veterans to the civilian job market, prepare them for the job search and help place them into the workforce. The Speaker and Council Members also announced that through the Public Private Partnership initiative they have organized a number of major corporations including TD Bank, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Alcoa and Wells Fargo to forge connections with Seedco and WorkForce1 so that when jobs become available at these companies they can more easily work to connect qualified veterans with those opportunities. Barbara Dwyer Gunn, Seedco President and CEO, Angie Kamath, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), Terrance C. Holiday, Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Veteran’s Affairs, Frank Vazquez, U.S. veteran Vazquez who is currently participating in the VETERANS program and veterans groups joined the Speaker in today’s announcement.

“Far too many of our service men and women risk their lives to protecting our country, only to find themselves unable to get a job when they return home,” said Speaker Quinn. And with the scheduled Afghanistan drawdown only a few months away, New York City needs to be prepared to assist our returning heroes. Serving in the military provides an invaluable set of skills that many employers are looking for, but often have difficulty translating their work experience into civilian terms.” Through the VETERANS program we’ll ease their transition into civilian life by offering workforce development and job search training, and help connect employers to the qualified candidates. I’d like to thank Seedco, SBS, and the diverse network of companies and veterans groups dedicated to making this program successful.”

As an increasing number of veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, the members of the VETERANS partnership have recognized that this population requires a tailored approach to ensure that career services and supports meet their specific needs. While most veterans are highly skilled in their field, have specialized training and certifications, and are highly motivated, individuals with extensive leadership experience, many face challenges that can impact their capacity to obtain employment.

The VETERANS program provides a priority service track for veterans and their spouses at the Bronx and Upper Manhattan Workforce1 Career Centers, operated by Seedco under contract for the Department of Small Businesses. Veterans are paired up with a career coach and a Fulfillment Account manager who are trained to ensure that they get individualized attention to improve their marketability and connect them to employment opportunities and needed work supports. Some of the specialized services provided include: resume writing, translation of certifications and military experience, career coaching, and help with benefit access.

“Returning servicemen and women in New York City can be confident that our career counselors — themselves veterans — stand ready to help them achieve their goals as they embark on a new chapter in their lives,” said Seedco President and CEO Barbara Dwyer Gunn. “Seedco looks forward to working with the City Council, the Department of Small Business Services, and employers on the VETERANS partnership.”

“The Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs looks forward to continuing our work with the City Council, the City’s Workforce 1 Centers and Seedco to bring enhanced employment services for veterans in our City,” said Terrance C. Holiday, Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Veteran’s Affairs.

“Veterans are outstanding entrepreneurs and expanding employment opportunities for some of our Nation’s most highly-trained and motivated men and women who have served our country is an honor,” said Council Member Diana Reyna, Chair of the Committee on Small Business. “Veterans represent a disproportionate share of America’s jobless – after protecting our freedoms abroad, we must encourage their professional growth at home. My colleagues and I are committed to setting goals for New York City to award contracting opportunities to veteran-owned small businesses across our five boroughs.”

“Thousands of veterans are currently struggling to find jobs, many of whom are veterans who have recently returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe it is our duty to assist all veterans in acquiring necessary job skills to develop their careers, while also helping veterans connect with employers interested in hiring them. I want to thank the Speaker and Councilmember Reyna for working together to address this issue and ensuring veterans have access to quality services and programs to find jobs and adjust to civilian life,” said Councilmember Mathieu Eugene.

“We owe our veterans all the respect and gratitude in the world, as their service to the nation has been wonderful. As they thankfully return home, the most important thing that government can do is provide for their health and well-being. The partnership with Seedco for workforce development training and placement supports this goal and I congratulate Speaker Quinn and Council Members Reyna and Eugene for their tireless efforts,” said NYC Council Member Karen Koslowitz.

“At a time when our country is asking so much of our military service members and families, it is important that local governments do all they can to help veterans returning to their home communities,” said Council Member Al Vann, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. “This VETERANS initiative will go a long way in connecting returning veterans to the civilian job market and represents how beneficial public-private partnerships can be in achieving public goals.”

“Microsoft is focused on improving the lives of our Veterans through a number of programs including Elevate America Veterans and,” said Catherine Collins, Microsoft Public Relations manager. “We are happy to partner with the New York City Council on this important initiative.”

“I look forward to helping Seedco in their determination to bring their expertise to the veterans community. I also commend Speaker Quinn in bringing this program to the veterans door front,” said Pat Toro Jr., President, Vietnam Veterans of America, Queens Chapter #32

“Veterans Across America would like to take the opportunity to thank Speaker Quinn and the Council, as well as Seedco and SBS, for their outstanding efforts in assisting New York City veterans find gainful and meaningful employment,” said Glen Witt, Program Manager, Veterans Across America. “In today’s economic environment it is critical that we have such strong support for New York’s unemployed and underemployed veteran community.”

In New York City, 17,300 veterans are currently unemployed, an increase of 4,700 from last year. Unemployment among New York State veterans recently home from Iraq and Afghanistan is close to 15 percent, and in the last year alone, unemployment among veterans statewide increased by more than 20,500. There are approximately 22 million veterans of a U.S military branch; of those about 1 in 10 veterans served post 9/11 and nearly two thirds are currently under the age of 35. The national veterans’ unemployment rate is 10 percent; the unemployment rate for veterans ages 18-24 is approximately 21 percent.

The Council’s Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Veterans will also be holding a joint hearing today to examine causes of high unemployment among veterans, and other actions the city is taking to help reduce the high-rates of unemployment among veterans. They will also explore the programs and services available to veterans interested in starting a small business, the business community’s treatment of veteran employees and the incentives available to employers to encourage veteran hiring.

About Seedco

Seedco is a $60 million national nonprofit organization that advances economic opportunity for people, businesses, and communities in need. Seedco’s efforts are focused on the following lines of work: workforce development; work and family supports; and services and supports for small businesses. Under contract with the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), Seedco operates two of the largest Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funded job centers in the country, located in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. Each of these Workforce1 Career Centers serves approximately 12,000 new jobseekers per year, placing about 6,000 into employment.

About the Department of Small Business Services Workforce1 Career Centers

SBS runs New York City’s workforce development programs, which connect employers to a skilled workforce and provide training and placement services to the City’s adult workforce. Workforce1 Career Centers are located throughout the five boroughs and provide the City’s job seekers with a full array of employment services including career advisement, job search counseling, skills training, and job placement. SBS operates these centers in coordination with the New York State Department of Labor and the City University of New York, combining the expertise of many different organizations to provide a seamless network of employment services and business development resources.

Shirley Limongi-(Council) 212-788-7125
Lauren Miura-(Seedco) 917-338-9229
Sara Krauss-(SBS) (212) 513-6318