By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 19, 2012 - Some 8,600 homeless veterans will benefit from $15 million in grant money for job training through the U.S. Department of Labor's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said today.
The Labor Department has awarded the money to 64 organizations that help America's veterans, DOL officials said. The grant, officials added, will go to state and local workforce investment boards, local public agencies and similar groups that are familiar with their homeless veteran populations, and have shown they can provide help for them.
"As a nation, it is our sacred obligation to the countless fathers and mothers, to the sons and daughters who put their own lives on the line to protect ours," Solis said of efforts to assist homeless veterans. "No service member should ever have to come home and be homeless. They should never have to go to sleep in cars, streets, under bridges, or in vacant homes."
The program will start on July 1, officials said.
Organizations receiving grants will provide a range of employment services to homeless veterans, officials said, including career counseling, resume preparation, skill development, job training and job placement -- in addition to support services such as transportation help, clothing, housing referrals and referrals to medical providers and substance abuse counselors.
"Our grantees are focused first and foremost on helping our veterans find good jobs and contribute to our economy," Solis said.
Solis said 61 percent of homeless veterans are between the ages of 35 and 54, and while most are men, the number of women homeless veterans is increasing. She added that fewer than 60,000 veterans are assumed to be homeless any given night, a decline of more than 90,000 from four years ago.
"We're making some progress but we know we have to do more," Solis said.
DOL also works closely with the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services to provide affordable housing for homeless veterans, Solis said.
"We know that once our veterans have shelter, [and have their] basic needs met, they're more likely to seek treatment for medical issues, substance abuse and mental health challenges. And with permanent housing, they're also more likely to seek employment," she said.
"As a new generation of American veterans comes home, we're reminded of the tremendous sacrifices made by our service men and women and our military families," Solis said. "No one pays a higher price for freedom than our veterans."
Department of Labor [ http://www.dol.gov/vets/ ]
Department of Labor News Release [ http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/vets/VETS20121260.htm ]