L.A. CARES Explores Efforts by The Salvation Army, JVS Los Angeles and Corporate Partners to Overcome Obstacles Vets Face in the Job Market

Los Angeles, Calif. (October 22, 2013) – There are nearly one million unemployed veterans in the United States, according to a 2013 report from the Department of Labor With more than 30 veteran friendly employers in attendance at The EXPO Center, JVS Los Angeles and The Salvation Army addressed this issue at L.A. Cares a community symposium designed to shine a light on the vital issue of helping our heroes return to civilian life.

L.A. Cares recognized area businesses that have created successful military hiring initiatives and highlighted the nonprofit partnership of The Salvation Army Return-To-Work and JVS Veterans First programs for their forward thinking approaches to the challenges facing returning veterans. 

Picking up on the injunction of Los Angeles Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff  - a featured speaker at the event - to “do one more thing” to help Angelenos in need, JVS and the Salvation Army recognized employers who are developing or increasing veteran hiring initiatives.  Keynote speaker Jan Perry - whose father and uncle were servicemen in World War II - said that helping veterans is a moral duty.

“This is a different world, jobs are not plentiful and the economy has suffered greatly from the effects of the Recession,” said Perry, a former L.A. City Councilmember. Addressing the veterans in attendance, she added: “We owe a debt not only of gratitude, but also to help you get jobs.”

As Interim General Manager of Mayor Garcetti’s Economic and Workforce Development Department, Perry oversees the network of Los Angeles area WorkSource Centers including those operated by JVS. The WorkSource Centers are part of the America’s Job Center network and a nationwide effort targeting veteran employment.

“President Obama wants our veterans to visit these centers to look for work and training opportunities,” said Perry. “Ten percent of those jobs must be for veterans. That means we want to serve our returning men and women and make sure there is a place for them.”

In addition to seeing videos highlighting the impact of the JVS Veterans First and Salvation Army Haven, attendees heard from veterans who have faced and overcome  substantial challenges to employment. During a panel on best practices in veteran recruitment, hiring and retention, senior executives from Bank of America, Activision/Blizzard, Safeway, Inc.-VONS, and ACET (Adams Communication & Engineering Technology) reviewed their respective companies’ successes and urged others to follow suit.

“Hiring managers need to get past the assumptions that all veterans are either ‘heroes or damaged,’ said Dan Goldenberg, executive director of Activision/Blizzard’s Call of Duty Endowment.

“The truth of the matter is that veterans are people very much like anyone in this room,” said Goldenberg. “They just made a really hard decision to say ‘I’m going to stand up, sacrifice and serve my country.’  I think the average hiring manager has a little trouble relating to that. A veteran is someone who is very dedicated and brings great skills and experience to the table, but also someone I can relate to, someone I want on my team.”

Dan Berkovitz, a former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps was referred to Haven by the JVS WorkSource Center and is now a top-selling agent with Activision/Blizzard. He said he likely would not have gotten his job without the help of The Salvation Army who presented him as a qualified and pre-screened candidate. He urged employers to give veterans “strong consideration and an opportunity to interview.”

“By doing so, you would not only be showing your support for a qualified veteran, but you may even find your best candidate to help your business,” Berkovitz said.

Echoing Berkovitz’s remarks was former U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Ibrahim Brewer. After receiving extensive interview coaching and resume help from JVS, Brewer found himself meeting with much more success on his job interviews.

“It’s always about taking that first step,  getting that first job and letting people know that you are someone that can be an asset to their company,” said Brewer. “Marines set out to do something and we get it done, and we take care of the people around us. Those are two things that make companies successful and those are two things that you want on a team.”

About The Salvation Army:  The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 126 years in the United States. More than 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. About 82 cents of every dollar raised is used to support those services in 7,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmy-socal.org.

About JVS Los Angeles (Jewish Vocational Service):  Longtime leaders in the workforce development field and advocates for the underserved since 1931, JVS helps people of all faiths and backgrounds overcome barriers to employment so they can achieve self-sufficiency. From the long term unemployed to veterans, foster and probation youth, people with disabilities and those moving from welfare to work, our goal is to provide individuals with the tools, resources and guidance they need through job training, mentoring, expert career coaching, job placement and retention support. JVS serves nearly 30,000 Angelenos annually and in 2013 received Charity Navigator’s top 4-star rating for the sixth consecutive year. To learn more, please visit www.jvsla.org.