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June 1st, 2011
Grijalva Congratulates Three Southern Arizona Recipients of More Than $1.2 Million in Homeless Veteran Employment Training Grants

Washington, D.C.– The federal Department of Labor (DOL) today announced four grants to three Southern Arizona recipients, totaling more than $1.2 million, aimed at helping homeless and incarcerated veterans reintegrate into the workforce. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva congratulated each recipient and thanked them for “working so diligently to help those who need and deserve our assistance.”

The Primavera Foundation received $200,000 from the DOL Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. Pima County received $245,000 from the same program and $500,000 from the Veterans Workforce Investment Program. Arizona Women’s Education & Employment, Inc., received $300,000 from the Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program.

The grants are part of more than $35 million in funding for similar efforts around the country announced today. DOL expects the funds to provide 21,000 veterans with job training to help them succeed in civilian careers.

“Each of these grants will mean better opportunities, better skills and a better life for veterans in our very own communities,” Grijalva said. “We have a moral obligation and an economic imperative to make sure veterans have options available when they return home. These grants, and others like them, help make that a reality, and I thank the recipients for offering these services.”

A recent Washington Post article, headlined “Iraq, Afghanistan veterans struggle to find jobs,” told the story of a 28-year-old veteran who moved in with his parents in Arizona after several tours of duty failed to prepare him for civilian working life. As the article said:

Concerns that Guard and Reserve troops will be gone for long stretches and that veterans might have mental health issues or lack civilian work skills appear to be factors keeping the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at 20.9 percent, a slight drop from the year before, but still well over the 17.3 percent rate for non-veterans of the same age group, 18-24.

“The employers out there, they are military-friendly and veteran-friendly, and they love us and thank us and everything, but when you go apply for a job, it’s almost like they are scared to take a risk for you. I don’t get it. It doesn’t make sense,” said Iraq veteran Christopher Kurz, 28, who just moved back in with his parents in Arizona after spending two years looking for law enforcement work in New York. Kurz said his time as a military police officer in Iraq and aboard a nuclear aircraft carrier didn’t seem to translate into a job.

Grijalva held an April 25 town hall meeting with unemployed veterans in Tucson. Video of that event is available at the Town Halls and Public Appearances section of Grijalva’s Web site.

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