WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2011 – President Barack Obama is using executive action to create new jobs for veterans in support of the American Jobs Act, a senior White House official said today during a conference call.
“I think all Americans can agree that veterans shouldn't have to fight for a job once they've come home from the fight overseas,” said Matt Flavin, director of the White House Veterans, Military Families and Wounded Warrior Task Force. “But we've seen from the unemployment numbers, especially for post-9/11 veterans, that the case is too many of our veterans are having to [fight] that fight.”
Flavin cited the president’s request for the private sector to hire and train 100,000 military veterans and spouses as the catalyst for new hiring initiatives. “We're making good progress on that,” he said. “I think most of you probably saw last week the first lady announced that the American Logistics Association and their 270 affiliated companies committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.
“We'll continue to do this private-sector work,” he continued. “We'll continue to work with our partners in the private sector, the nonprofit space, as well as the veterans’ groups and the military service organizations.”
One of two new hiring initiatives introduced to help increase opportunities for vets comes via community health centers.
“The Health Resources and Services Administration supports a network of community health centers that deliver high-quality primary care services at more than 8,000 service delivery sites across the nation,” said Mary Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration. “Today we're challenging those health centers to hire 8,000 veterans – that's approximately one veteran per health center site – over the next three years.”
Wakefield said with the support of the Recovery Act and Affordable Care Act, health centers have added new full-time positions since 2009. “In fact, community health centers have added more than 18,600 new full-time positions in many of the nation's most economically distressed communities,” she said. “Just last year, … health centers employed more than 131,000 staff.”
Wakefield also discussed another new initiative to assist with veteran hirings.
“We are working to speed up the process of training military medics to become physician assistants,” she said. “Nearly $45 million has been invested to support accredited physician assistant training programs in the past two years.”
Wakefield said 57 active physician assistant training grants are available through HRSA. “Going forward, we'll be giving priority in physician assistant grant awards to universities and to colleges that help to credential veterans,” she added.
Tom Van Coverden, president of the National Association of Community Health Centers, said his organization embraces the initiatives fully and stands ready to serve.
“Our community health centers already employ many, many veterans, from entry level staff to clinicians, all the way from doctors and dentists to administrative staff to nurses to network leaders,” he said.
Van Coverden cited attention to detail, administrative and technical skills in the use of technology, and life-saving skills as tools veterans bring to the table. He also lauded vets as “great employees” who are well-trained and bring real real-world experience.
“I think that there's a deep and a rich history of the community commitment,” Van Coverden said. “The community health center … is a natural setting for those who really care about service.”