Colby Hamilton, Writer, WNYC News
Colby Hamilton is a general assignment reporter. He originally joined WNYC as a political blogger. He's a proud graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
New York City wants to move beyond bumper sticker slogans to help returning vets find employment.
It plans to do just that by creating a new Workforce1 Veterans Career Center, located just north of Madison Square Park in Manhattan.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, joined by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other city officials, said the new jobs training center is "what we believe to be the nation's only career center exclusively dedicated to and staffed by veterans of the arm services.”
“Because who better to provide guidance to returning vets than those who've walked in their shoes,” he added.
According to Bloomberg, about 8,600 unemployed veterans under the age of 55 are living in New York City. He said the city’s workforce program was able to help about 800 veterans find work in 2011. With the new center, the city expects to increase that number by about 50 percent to 1,250.
“It’s one thing to say we support our troops when they're abroad, but to really mean that we need to make sure we help them when they return, get all the support they need to support themselves and their families,” said Speaker Quinn.
According to city officials, the new facility will provide more than just job training and counseling. It will be a one-stop resource center that will also connect veterans to social services, benefits, and educational opportunities.
"It is the goal of the staff here at this center to create a place where veterans can come and reintegrate into the communities they've so bravely volunteered to defend,” Anthony Morvillo, an Afghanistan war veteran, who will manage the facility. "In the military we live by a motto, a credo, that says we will never leave somebody behind, ever, and we're not going to do that now.”
The veterans’ facility joins more than a dozen other Workforce1 centers throughout the city. Bloomberg said the need for a veterans-specific site is born out of lessons learned from previous conflicts.
“We can’t sit there and make the mistake we’ve done in the past of saying to vets, well, thanks, but that was in a different era,” he said. “We’ve got to do our part.”