New Britain nonprofit aims to end veteran homelessness with workforce training
A New Britain organization dedicated to housing and reintegrating veterans into civilian life received federal support.
The federal Department of Labor (DOL) granted $154,000 for Veterans Inc. to help homeless veterans re-enter the workforce and find meaningful employment. Veterans Inc.’s ultimate goal is to end veteran homelessness, by addressing the causes of homelessness.
“It is for re-entry because veterans, and anyone who is homeless, need the connection to workplaces, the skill training and apprenticeships, on-the-job training that are vital to come back to the workforce and avoid being homeless in any permanent way,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal, a Democratic member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, advocated for the funding.
It's part of $58 million in DOL grants to organizations across the nation assisting homeless veterans seeking work.
New Britain’s Veterans Inc. residential facility includes case management, employment, training and supportive services.
Ray Carville, Veterans Inc.’s Government Affairs Specialist, and a U.S. Army veteran, said it’s critical to break the cycle of homelessness and unemployment.
“We have to provide housing for our veterans in order to keep that housing, we have to give them jobs where they can earn a livable wage,” Carville said. “In order to keep that job, we have to provide them the behavioral health and mental health stability that they need to keep the job that pays for the apartment.”
When veterans secure a job through the program, Veterans Inc. follows the client for a year, ensuring the job transition is successful, Carville said.
Annually, the group in Connecticut enrolls 72 veterans and is required to find employment for at least 50 of the clients as part of the grant stipulations, Connecticut’s Veterans Inc. Regional Manager Dan Walsh said.
To reintegrate veterans to the workforce, executives from companies like Stanley Black & Decker and GE conduct mock interviews for program participants.
Employers want to learn how military skills translate to civilian work, Walsh said.
“They’ll come down here and help us translate military career into civilian speak. Because that's what I found the most difficult when I retired,” Walsh said. “Nobody wants to hear about your military career, they want to see how it applies to the job they're applying for.”
In addition to job training and placement, Veterans Inc. provides temporary housing for veterans experiencing homelessness.
Located in a renovated 10,000-square-foot early 20th century building, the facility includes common areas, bathrooms, administrative offices and 17 bedrooms. Currently, the facility is home to 15 veterans.
The organization provides various services for veterans, including mental health treatment, case management, suicide prevention, aid in employment searching and housing.