Op-Ed: Time's almost up for vets

The homeless vet deadline

  • By
  • | 6:23 a.m. November 5, 2015
Homeless veterans still number more than 400 in Central Florida, with a goal of zero by the end of 2015 seeming insurmountable.
Homeless veterans still number more than 400 in Central Florida, with a goal of zero by the end of 2015 seeming insurmountable.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Every November, we honor the men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform as members of the U.S. Armed Forces. This year, Veterans Day brings a special urgency thanks to President Obama’s ambitious plan to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.

With only one month remaining, Central Florida has yet to achieve this goal. The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness recently found that more than 400 veterans in the region are homeless. And this number doesn’t capture veterans who have housing but are still struggling to transition to civilian careers.

As a community and nation, we must do a better job of connecting these men and women with employment. Jobs are a critical missing link that helps veterans build a more stable life for themselves and their families.

With a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Goodwill Industries of Central Florida recently launched the Operation GoodJobs for Homeless Veterans initiative to provide employment and supportive services for those in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

We assess each individual and help him or her create a customized action plan. Then, we provide job training and placement at Goodwill or with a local employer. Afterward, our staff follows up with participants for nine months to ensure that they are stably employed and housed. The grant also provides funds for training, clothing, tools, identification and transportation assistance. So far, 51 people have been served through this program.

Operation GoodJobs builds on existing linkages among providers of emergency, transitional and permanent supportive housing. Some of our partners include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Our goal is to support 120 veterans before June 30, 2016 – and we need the community’s help. We invite local employers to partner with us to hire qualified candidates who have served our nation. Donating and shopping at Goodwill also benefits our programs for veterans, people with disabilities and others in need of work. This month and all year round, let’s express our gratitude to our nation’s heroes through meaningful action.