"As far as success once they leave the military … success, for me, is making sure they have a good, meaningful career and good opportunity to provide for their families. "
The veteran unemployment rate has remained steady over the past year. The Dept. of Labor VETS program aims to help keep that rate down with efforts to assist veterans, returning service members and military spouses prepare for meaningful careers. An interview with Mike Michaud, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL-VETS). Part 2 of 2. Click here to go directly to part 1 of this interview.
Interview Recorded on October 21, 2016. Read a transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: It seems like you clearly are eliminating a lot of the red tape. How do you measure success? What does success look like not only for the Department of Labor but also for the Veterans Association?
Michaud: Well, there are a couple of ways to measure success. First of all, we rewrote the curriculum for the Transition Assistance Program. We worked with servicemembers, contractors, and veteran service organization, and the surveys we do once someone completes the Transition Assistance Program under the Department of Labor, three days, is actually over 95%. So that says a lot. And a lot of them say, “I wish I would’ve known about this earlier. I would’ve taken the TAP class earlier.” And we’ve actually made it easier for them by having it on e-book, on Amazon. You can download that whole app, an e-book, free of charge, which is important. As far as success once they leave the military, the fact that, if you look at the numbers, 4.3%, those numbers are going down. But there’s still a lot of work to do. Between the 18 and 24 years old, it’s 7.5%. So we still got a lot of work to do, but success, for me, is making sure they have a good, meaningful career and good opportunity to provide for their families.
Traynham: Speaking of a lot of work to do, Mr. Secretary, in the few moments we have left, according to the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans, nearly 40% of the homeless veterans out there are people of color. What programs do you have, sir, to address this immediate need?
Michaud: When you look at homelessness among our veterans population, the Department of Labor Vets, we actually have a portion of that program, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. It’s currently a $38 million program. 16,000 homeless veterans were in that program last year. All of that, about 70% of those homeless veterans found jobs.
Michaud: Matter of fact, some of our grantees, businesses are going there first to try to hire employees because the success rates —
Traynham: Is that the greatest need or the success rate? Go ahead.
Michaud: The success rate is great. Congress and the President’s budget — he included an additional $12 million, so if Congress passes our budget as presented by the President, we’ll be at the full authorized $50 million. Hopefully, they will, ‘cause then we’ll be able to address some of the other needs out there with the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
Traynham: And lastly, what about women veterans, with respect to their numbers and making sure that they transition from veteran life to civilian life?
Michaud: Yep, absolutely. Same thing. We actually have a director that deals specifically with women’s veterans at the Department of Labor Vets. And those numbers are going in the right direction, as well. Here again, everything’s going in the right direction. We want to make sure it continues to go that way, and we’re always looking at how can we improve on the programs that we currently have and how do we partner with folks? So we’ve got a great partnership with the Soldier for Life program. A lot of transitions, some I’ve been at, they’re there, as well. So it’s a great partnership. It’s that collaborative effort that we do at the Department of Labor Vets with other agencies, with nonprofit, with private sector, with the Chamber of Commerce that’s really made a big difference.
Traynham: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. We appreciate it. And thank you for joining us for this edition of “Comcast Newsmakers.” I’m Robert Traynham. Have a great day. We’ll see you next time. Bye-bye. (END OF PART 2)