Art Olson | Avenida Primavera
It is good news that most of our military has returned home from Iraq, and we expect the same from Afghanistan in the near future. It is sad news that for California veterans aged 18 to 24 years the unemployment rate is nearly 25 per cent -- over twice as dismal as the existing grim unemployment rate in our state of 12 percent. Veterans have a much harder time finding jobs than their non-veteran peers, primarily because they lack experience and have lost time building the essential networks.
Out of her concern for this issue, Shirley King felt that the City of Del Mar could help and that it would be an ideal work environment with its breadth of public service departments, such as the lifeguards, public works, and fire department. She reasoned that the City’s municipal services could offer these veterans a multitude of profession-building work skills and would have strong alignment with the wartime employment of our veterans where their skills are constantly inter-woven with restoring public welfare services and building community relations.
In a letter to City Council members she proposed the idea and got strong positive response. As a result the City will be exploring with the National Veterans Employment Coordination Center how to choose candidates and the kinds of work experiences that will expand future career options for individuals and broaden job networks. Private funding for one salary has already been committed, and a mentorship network is being established with our community’s retired resident veterans and business leaders.
Ongoing fund-raising will continue with the goal to open more job apprenticeships in our City to give a “leg up” for more veterans to transfer their skills to the civilian world. Business owners in our community are encouraged to take advantage of the Returning Heroes tax credits and the employer initiative, through which half of the veteran’s wages are reimbursed for the first six months when a business employs a service disabled veteran.
Currently our veterans are making use of the programs for job training through the Department of Veteran Affairs and the post 9/11 GI Bill to send veterans back to school, but it is still a daunting task to look for entry-level jobs. They need communities to open doors to job opportunities, career paths and healing. It is the very least we can do.
If you wish to contribute to our City’s initiative, please contact Shirley King for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org.