Feb 012013
 

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Sgt. Ryan Quay shares a moment with his wife, Nicole, and his 3-year-old son, Blake, before leaving for Afghanistan on Monday morning. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

Sgt. Ryan Quay shares a moment with his wife, Nicole, and his 3-year-old son, Blake, before leaving for Afghanistan on Monday morning. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

By Wesley Brown

Friday, February 1, 2013

As the nation’s unemployment rate remains below 8 percent, joblessness for post-Sept. 11 veterans has climbed to nearly 10 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is one of the most staggering statistics in the job market’s slow recovery, economists say.

However, there is some good news locally for veterans expected to leave the armed forces during the next four to five years.

City officials announced this week that they plan to invite one veteran to come work in its economic development office as a paid intern, saying they value the interpersonal and cross-cultural qualities service officers have inherited in leading some of nation’s top security missions.

“This could be our chance to work with The Greatest Generation 2.0,” Greenville Economic Developer Officer Carl Rees said, characterizing the opportunity — an extension of Operation Reentry North Carolina — as one of the “most exciting workforce development programs he has ever seen.”

Operation Reentry North Carolina was created in 2011 as part of a national partnership to address the “resilience, rehabilitation and reintegration” of veterans, their families and the health providers that care for the service personnel.

purplearrowUnder a five-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command, East Carolina University is leading the operation, funded in its first year through $2.4 million from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The city recently joined the initiative, reaching out to ECU to help build the concept into a “working model” that provides long-term research opportunities for active service men and women.

Rees visited Charlotte on Monday with ECU officials to learn from the Queen City’s veteran workforce transition program — called the “Bridge Home” — and said he expects to have an intern onboard at City Hall in the next one to two months.

The plan is to actively recruit an exiting officer every six months from the Joint Special Operations Command Center in Fayetteville to Greenville to complete an internship paid for with federal defense funds.

The intern will work directly under Rees and have regular contact with Mayor Allen Thomas and City Manager Barbara Lipscomb to assist staff in “aligning the city’s economic goals.” Job responsibilities will include:

Engaging the business community to recruit job opportunities for veterans and spouses of disabled veterans.

Collaborating with area economic development partners to provide business opportunities that will lead to job creation for local veterans and residents.

Working with area recreation, parks and cultural arts organizations to build policies and programs supportive of a high quality of life in Greenville.

Rees said there may be some veterans who require mental health services, physical therapy and basic workforce training, all of which he said the city could provide through the help of ECU, Pitt Community College and Vidant Medical Center.

Dr. Ted Morris, ECU’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Economic Development, said the university plans to recruit a paid intern as well to “identify, recruit and integrate resources” from within and outside the community to provide peer-to-peer support services and employment opportunities for veterans and their families.

With Greenville being within a one to three-hour drive of 10 military installations, including two naval stations in Norfolk, Va., a Coast Guard port in Elizabeth City, and six Marine Corps air stations and bases along the Crystal Coast, the hope is for the interns to be local.

“These veterans and many of their family members are dedicated leaders that represent what could be fantastic talent to the local workforce,” Morris said. “We are absolutely excited to further develop this concept.”

Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or wbrown@reflector.com. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.

via The Daily Reflector.

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