Women make up the fastest-growing group of the armed forces; the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that currently one in 10 veterans is female. These women are returning from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and struggling to transition to civilian life, facing challenges such as high child care costs, lack of transportation, homelessness, disabilities, lack of licensing or credentialing, and other issues impeding their families’ path to economic self-sufficiency.
Goodwill® understands what these veterans face when they return home and equips them to successfully transition into the workforce through job training and placement services, career planning and advancement opportunities, and family strengthening services.
In response to the circumstances they face when they return to civilian life, Goodwill Industries International has committed to engaging 3,000 women veterans over the next two years with services and supports that lead to economic self-sufficiency. Several veterans were on hand to share their success stories during an announcement at the National Press Club on Thursday, June 20.
“Coming out of the service, we need this. We need these services that help us get back on our feet,” said Juanita Williams, a Navy veteran who launched a new career using Goodwill services and who is now an ophthalmologist assistant with The Bellaire Eye Care Clinic in Houston, TX. “They’ve helped me with child care, résumé writing classes, interview techniques and, of course, finding my employer.”
The unemployment rate for women transitioning from active duty into the civilian workforce is volatile. Although the rate may see occasional drops, it is likely to again rise dramatically. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate for women veterans who served after 9/11 has ranged 15 percent — from a peak of 19.9 percent to a low of 4.9 percent — while their male counterparts saw a range of 5.1 percent — with a 12.7 percent peak and a 7.6 percent low. If the cycle continues, women veterans are likely to become discouraged with the job search and drop out of the labor force. These findings mean it is crucial to connect women veterans to stable employment so they can build their careers and care for their families. Research shows that they are three times as likely as non-veterans to become homeless, while male veterans are twice as likely as non-veterans.
“These women have financial and personal obligations, just as male veterans do, and it’s important that they have the support and services needed to overcome challenges to finding employment,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “We’re proud of their service to our country and to our community, and it is our duty to help them be successful in the workplace.”
“We have an obligation to honor and serve these men and women who have served us,” said Assistant Secretary Keith Kelly, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), U.S. Department of Labor. “The Department [of Labor] can’t do it without the support of places like Goodwill.”
Two years ago, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden called on Goodwill and others to support military veterans by participating in the Joining Forces campaign. Answering the call, Goodwill has hired nearly 1,800 veterans and military family members, and it has served nearly 100,000 more with job training and placement services. Goodwill also served as a national activation partner of Got Your 6, the first initiative of its kind led by the entertainment industry and national nonprofits where veterans and military families are positioned as both the leaders and civic assets they are.
In addition, Goodwill’s programs for veterans and military families have received grant funding support from corporate partners. Funded by the Walmart Foundation, Goodwill’s Operation: GoodJobs connects veterans with individualized career plans and support services for their families. Vested in Veterans, funded by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, builds on existing Goodwill programs to connect veterans with educational and career opportunities and services to successfully transition into the workforce.
To learn more about Goodwill Industries International, Inc., visit http://goodwill.org/. To learn more about Veterans Service and other services in the Greater New York and Northern New Jersey area, come visit our website at: http://www.goodwillnynj.org/.