BACKGROUND - As you know, the brave men and women who have served in the American Armed Forces -and their families- make enormous sacrifices, both during and after their service to our nation. As large numbers of veterans are discharged from the military, the demand for services designed to facilitate their reintegration into their communities, families, and jobs will be immense. Some veterans will find reintegration to be an easy task; many will experience great difficulty – others, particularly those who are disabled, will find the transition to be overwhelming.
Goodwill Industries was one of the first organizations to respond to the multitude of challenges faced by veterans and their families. Goodwill has designed programs and services in response to the federal initiative and call to action - ‘Joining Forces, Taking Action to Serve American Military Families’ - from former First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Goodwill has experienced an increased need for our programs since commonly accessed veteran services and resources are overextended and unable to accommodate all the needs.
“Let's serve those who first served us!" - C.J. Bannister, Veterans Services Program Director, Former USAF SSgt.
Goodwill is committed to improving the education and wellness opportunities for veterans and military families through case coordination and mentoring. Hiring veterans is not charity – it is an investment in our community. Millions of dollars are spent to train our armed forces personnel – they are lost assets if we do not find a way to repurpose those skills.
Goodwill Manasota has created a Veterans Task Force. Mission is to: “Provide a leadership role in addressing strategic issues and providing community-supported solutions facing veterans and their families on employment and transitioning into civilian life.” The Veterans Task Force sent a survey to numerous organizations that focus on veteran’s issues, as well as individual veterans and asked them to provide input as to the main issue facing veterans – from their perspectives.
Employment surfaced as the most significant issues facing veterans today.
VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES PROGRAM – Goodwill’s Veterans Service Advisors offer access to employment preparation courses, educational and technical skills classes, and work tools; all aimed at assisting veterans find meaningful employment so that they may advance beyond their military careers and regain a sense of pride, dignity and purpose. One-on-one guidance is provided, especially to those who have become disabled during their tour of duty. Program trainers match job seekers with job opportunities through targeted recruitment services and job fairs. As former veterans, coaches are uniquely qualified to help other veterans rise to the challenge of assimilation. This Program is also an expansion of the Goodwill’s Job Connection program - which provides job training, placement and employment services to thousands of American veterans as well as their spouses and families.
Provides veterans with the behavior and workplace skills required to transition into civilian work force.
Assists veterans with opportunities to build a strong work history.
Develops a launching pad for higher paying jobs, incorporating the veteran’s vocational goals.
Provides veterans and their families with comprehensive case management services and vocational programming. Case managers address barriers to employment, disabilities and mental health issues which will maximize vocational opportunities for veterans.
Veterans are assessed and provided with assistance to develop life goals; including employment, housing, family, education and other aspects of returning to the civilian sector.
The expansion of Goodwill’s Job Connection program has increased the depth and breadth of aid by implementing individual rehabilitation plans to train and assist veterans with their transition into the civilian work force. Since the inception in 2013, Goodwill Manasota has served more than a thousand veterans reintegrated back into the civilian workforce.
RESOURCE VETERANS GUIDE – This Guidebook is helpful in working with Veterans who are looking for a directory of services in our community. There are sections for housing, food, VA benefits, child care, etc. – everything the Veterans and their family needs to assist them in reintegrating back into civilian life.
HVRP – The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) was received in 2015 in response to the growing needs of the local population of homeless veterans. While the ultimate goal is to help veterans transition into employment, Goodwill realizes that many veterans need basic assistance before they are ready to get back to work. The HVRP is funded by a grant from the Department of Labor, and efforts of the HVRP are solely focused on the needs of homeless veterans, or those who are at risk for homelessness in our community.
SERV PROGRAM – In 2015, through financial support from local business owners, Goodwill Manasota created the Special Emergency Resources for Veterans (SERV) Fund. Individuals and businesses can donate directly to the SERV fund and 100% of the money donated goes directly towards helping veterans. The veterans assisted must meet certain criteria before becoming eligible to receive funding through the SERV program – and the funds are used only for circumstances of immediate financial need.
Donate to Goodwill Manasota's Special Emergency Resources for Veterans (SERV) Fund:
BRAVE PROGRAM -- In 2016, the Benefits, Resources and Veterans Education (BRAVE) Program was created. Many returning Veterans suffer debilitating psychological wounds. Many more servicemen have been lost to suicide than lost in combat. The system is overwhelmed by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Of the 1.7 million Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 300,000 (20 percent) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. Veteran mental health services are essential in order to help our all veterans recover from their combat experiences and mental health issues related to their military service. Through our partnership with The Women’s Resource Center, Goodwill provides free counseling to veterans.
You’re invited to network with other veterans and counselors from the Women’s Resource Center. Meet other veterans who have walked the same walk and who have faced similar challenges. You’ll also be able to enjoy the company of therapy dogs provided by Paws And Warriors Foundation (PAWs)! Be a mentor, be encouraged, but most of all…be there!
Goodwill Manasota, Inc. is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. Goodwill Manasota, Inc. is legally organized under the laws of the United States and the State of Florida.