America’s veterans are a key component to building a strong workforce

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By Erin Eagan

 

FVTC Casey Britten - FVTC2019_Veterans.JPG

Fox Valley Tech student veteran

Courtesy of Fox Valley Technical College

During the transition from military to civilian life, Wisconsin’s veterans often pursue further education and training on their journey to a new career path. While the skills and discipline learned in the service can give them an edge in the job market, that isn’t always enough to guarantee success. Knowing this, more veterans are enrolling in college than ever before.

Wisconsin’s technical colleges have responded to this surge by increasing the services and assistance they provide specifically targeted to veterans. In 2018, there were 2,904 veterans utilizing either their WI GI Bill or Post 9/11 benefits to receive education and training throughout Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges.

America’s veterans are a key component to building a strong workforce. Their leadership skills, loyalty, ability to learn and other qualities make them valuable assets to any organization. Knowing this, employers are increasingly bringing them on board. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in May of 2019 the national veteran unemployment rate was 2.7%, down from 3.4% in May 2018.

Our statewide low unemployment numbers are similar, and Wisconsin is a national leader in offering veterans access to programs, benefits and services. Working with colleges across the state, the State of Wisconsin aims to get veterans trained and connected with employers.

As an incentive to employers, Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs (WDVA) is supporting businesses that hire veterans. One example, The Veteran Employment Grant, is a program to support businesses hiring honorably discharged veterans with a 50% or more service-related disability. There are other grants available for non-profit organizations that provide assistance or other service to veterans, as well as for businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disability ratings. Some of these grants include:

Retraining Grants
The Retraining Grant has been a WDVA benefit since July 2005.“The purpose of the Retraining Grant is to provide financial assistance to recently unemployed or underemployed veterans while they are being retrained for employment, either through a technical education program or on-the-job training (OJT) program,” said Carla Vigue, Communications Director, WDVA. “(It’s) basically helping the veteran get back on their feet.” The WDVA will pay a retraining grant to the veteran's employer on behalf of a veteran engaged in an on-the-job training program.

As an example, an eligible unemployed or underemployed veteran who has a financial need could potentially receive up to $3,000 per year (for a maximum of two years) while retraining for employment. The amount of the grant is determined by the applicant's financial need as calculated by the WDVA. To qualify, the veteran must be currently enrolled in a technical education program or engaged in a structured on-the-job training program that will be completed within two years of the date that the application is received by the WDVA.

“A benefit for employers is that eligible veterans would receive financial assistance directly from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs while retraining for employment,” said Vigue. “It isn’t costing the employer anything, but it can assist the veteran employee in becoming better trained and educated through a technical education or on-the-job training program, which can ultimately benefit the employer as well.”

Entrepreneurship Grants
The Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Grant is available to registered 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) non-profit organizations that provide entrepreneurship training, or technical, business or other assistance to veteran entrepreneurs to improve employment outcomes. The Entrepreneurship Grant program included a maximum total of up to $400,000 during the period of July 2, 2018 – June 30, 2019.

Non-Profit Grants
The Wisconsin Non-Profit Grant is available to registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that provide financial assistance or other services to veterans and their dependents. The department may make grants of up to $250,000 annually to nonprofit organizations and no more than $25,000 to each grant recipient.

The Entrepreneurship and Non-Profit Grants both operate on a cyclic basis, while Retraining Grant applications may be accepted at any time.

All 16 Wisconsin technical colleges stand ready to serve our veterans and offer a broad range of flexible learning options to accommodate your and your veteran employees’ schedules. They will work with you to get your current and future veteran employees at a skill level where they need to be.

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